Windows on the World

“Begin challenging your assumptions. Your assumptions are the windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in a while or the light won’t come in.” – Alan Alda

I saw one of those “funny” e-cards on the Internet today.

Hilarious, huh? Yeah…

We tend to make broad assumptions about things that we don’t know about. We base these assumptions on things we couldn’t possibly know about. We’ve all likely heard people talk poorly about those who receive assistance. They write them off as lazy, manipulative, and “ghetto”, apparently. We all know someone who is abusing the system and we bitch about them and their new iPhone, freshly done nails, and Coach bag. Do we all know the actual welfare statistics? Negative. Do we know all the people who receive welfare? No, we do not. But we pass judgment on a whole passel of folks because of what we assume to be true. Do you think it’s statistically possible that every single person is manipulating the system? I’d say that’s doubtful.

Let me get off my soapbox on that.

The point I’m ham-fistedly driving at is this: we don’t know what we don’t know. Passing judgment is not our responsibility, nor is it even necessary. I understand it to a degree: we pay a whole bunch of money in taxes and a portion of that goes into a giant pool that is then used to help others. Some people do take advantage of that situation, and we resent that. But it’s a slippery slope to assume that everyone who falls under a certain umbrella is the worst of what we believe them to be.

If Alan Alda is correct, and our assumptions are the windows on the world, our windows don’t need to be scrubbed: they need to be replaced completely. As we continue to divide ourselves socially and politically, our assumptions grow in scope and depth. All black people are this… All white people are this… All cops are this… It’s an insane way of thinking, but it has been so ingrained in us that it’s hard to break.

It can be broken, though. Admittedly, it would be an extremely difficult exercise, but, with practice, it can be done. I propose that we approach it like this: everyone gets a clean slate and the benefit of the doubt until they give you reason to remove it. Don’t paint people into corners that they can’t get out of. Don’t force people into places where they can’t fit.

I say we start there and see where it gets us. I can only assume it will be a much happier place, but then again, you know what happens when you assume…

Have an awesome Tuesday, and Merry Christmas!


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(E-card photo pulled from


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