Story time yesterday – I offered to read about fairies or princesses, but had to give in and read about dinosaurs and giant tiramasus (not sure if I still have the name right).
As we learnt about how life started in water and moved to land, we read about a number of alien looking creatures. She had a number of questions, as always, about each one of them. One question remained common for each – did he kill other animals for food, or did he eat plants and trees? I realized based on the answer to the question, she would quickly jump to the conclusion – Oh! so this dinosaur was really bad because it used to kill other animals. And similarly – Oh! this dinosaur is so cute because he used to only eat plants.
I found this co-relation pretty surprising. After all, I have never tried to analyze good and bad in terms of what we chose to eat. I had some difficulty in trying to explain that everyone who eats meat is not dangerous and bad. In fact, both she and me are meat loving animals ourselves!
Long after tucking her in bed and sitting down with my own thoughts, I could understand where her thought process was coming from. The world around us has created so many stereotype characters around us. We have villains who are ugly, fat, loud voiced and who normally kill people. We have heroes who are always good looking, charming, and who end up saving people.
Whenever we come across new people, we are constantly trying to fit them in one or the other stereotype. If they don’t fit into any, it means we have not really understood them as yet. I find that sad, because by bucketing people into categories, we are also bucketing our interactions with them into “to have” or “not to have” categories.
Imagine, if we didn’t have buckets and everyone was considered safe to interact until proven crazy. Unfortunately, in todays world of crime and fear, what we are teaching our children, is quite the opposite. They learn that everyone is bad until proven good. They are taught not to trust anyone and not to talk to strangers. I am not sure whether we are truly protecting our children by killing their hope and trust.