Today’s Daily Prompt: “Grab the nearest book. Open it and go to the tenth word. Do a Google Image Search of the word. Write about what the image brings to mind.”
A multitude of meanings for that word and the image search echoes that. The first image is a chain breaking, the second a Reese’s Fast Break chocolate bar, a “coffee break” sign, a cartoon of a broken heart, a cartoon of a young man signalling “time out” and then a break dancer. Interesting that you have to get all the way past the fortieth image before you get an image of a broken object. Before that all the images of “break” are positive.
It should come as no surprise that, by comparison, the images for “broken” are almost entirely negative. They are dominated by the “broken heart” meme but other negative images are there such as death (the 13th image is a man in a noose) and broken dreams and broken people.
When we think of “break” we tend to think of a vacation or gap in our schedule. I think one of the good things about the human condition is that we seem to be such eternal optimists, always seeing the positive. It would be entirely possible when hearing “break” to think of “break a bone”, “break a heart”, “break a relationship”, “break a friendship”. You could even think “break a mind”, as happened to me.
One of the things about most people suffering from major depression is that the optimism is one then things broken. Depressed people tend to see the negative.
So when I heard the word “break” what did I think of. Well it must be an incredibly positive word because I thought of coffee break. Of course it is entirely possible that this can be explained by my coffee addiction rather than the word “break”.
So back to that first image. A chain breaking, I think I assume that’s meant to represent “breaking free”.
What can we break free from? What are the chains that hold us down? I’d actually like to talk about the chains we use to hold ourselves and others back, our prejudices and preconceptions.
A prejudice is any time you judge somebody before hearing evidence, before it is judicial to do so. If you judge somebody on how they dress, how they speak or where they come from you are indulging in prejudice.
An example, I have a prejudice against people what either can’t use decent spelling and grammar when writing or don’t bother. I find it harder to read and agree with their arguments.
A conception is a notion, an idea or concept so a preconception is an idea before, something fixed before it needs to be fixed.
An example, I used to have a preconception that I was not good at mathematics. It wasn’t until I had been programming and playing with logic puzzles I realised I was holding myself back. It wasn’t that I had no ability, merely that I was unlearnt.
Of course I have used two small examples. In our wider society we have larger and more important prejudices and preconceptions. I have a friend who rails against how these hold back the youth of Sydney’s west. Here in Sydney we label them “westies” and “bogans” and somehow think that their socio-cultural norms are less than those of people closer to the city. This is tragic on both sides since it holds back those young people and robs society of the full strength of their talents.
Why should we think less of someone from the west of Sydney when we don’t think the same of someone from, for example, Tokyo or Singapore who have socio-cultural norms even further from those of inner Sydney than outer Sydney? This is a perfect example of a preconception that chains people down.
A prejudice that upsets me considerably is the one about a person’s sexuality. I grew up in a household where a fair number of close family friends were homosexual as my mother was an amateur actress. It was only years later I knew which of our family friends were gay or not. Personally I have to say that of my friends one of the things that interests me least about them is who they choose to bump uglies with. Their politics, philosophy, hobbies and taste in books and music are much more important since they share with a shared experience the source and strength of our friendship.
If you judge someone else by their sexuality you do both them and yourself a disservice. This is another chain we should break. It is a blot upon our culture and a continual fight towards freedom. That the next step in that fight should be same-sex marriage seems to be the choice of the LBGT community so let’s get down to the business of fixing it.
I have one extremely close friend, Robin, who lost his partner of more than a dozen years to HIV/AIDS, I have another close friend who lost his wife to cancer. Do you think that their loss and devastation was different? Do you think my sympathy for either was different? My pale attempt at understanding their pain any less of a failure for one than the other? So why when Robin’s partner was alive should we not have allowed him the same celebration and public avowal of his love?
Then there are the ridiculous laws around medico-legal control and inheritance that are tangled up in the legal concept of “marriage” that can’t be accessed by LGBT couples. Of course here in Australia different sex couples only have to live together for six months and they are considered married under those laws while our same-sex couples can never have the same consideration. Think this is unimportant? My brother lives in a US state that does not have automatic “de-facto” laws and I suspect one of the reasons for his recent marriage (apart from the fact that he and Michele are devoted to each other and have been for umpteen years) is that it made a whole bunch of paperwork a lot easier.
A same-sex partner can find themselves, after living with someone for twenty years, kept away from their deathbed and funeral by the family. They can suddenly discover they have no ownership of their home.
So if you find yourself on the other side of this debate then I ask you to closely examine your preconceptions and prejudices. Break those chains and free yourself from your shackles.