What Is He?
By D.H. Lawrence
What is he?
-A man, of course.
Yes, but what does he do?
-He lives and is a man.
Oh quite! but he must work. He must have a job of some sort.
Because obviously he's not one of the leisured classes.
-I don't know. He has lots of leisure. And he makes quite beautiful chairs.
There you are then! He's a cabinet maker.
Anyhow a carpenter and joiner.
-Not at all.
But you said so.
-What did I say?
That he made chairs, and was a joiner and carpenter.
-I said he made chairs, but I did not say he was a carpenter.
All right then, he's just an amateur.
-Perhaps! Would you say a thrush was a professional flautist, or just an amateur?
I'd say it was just a bird.
-And I say he is just a man.
All right! You always did quibble.
Our ability to quickly identify by labeling and compartmentalizing everything can be a barrier to new ideas. We tend to assign a simple category to things, situations and people. Edward de Bono, the world’s leading teacher of thinking, in his recent book, "Why So Stupid: How the Human Race Has Never Really Learned to Think", says that our recognition method of thinking is inadequate in many situations. He blames this on the 'Gang of Three', his name for the most influential originators of Western philosophy—Socrates, Plato and Aristotle.
I was lucky to develop some kind of an aversion to simplistic categorization as a child. This was mainly due to the (misguided) queries on my language or place of origin. Like:
-Your name indicates you are a Tamilian
-Oh, you speak Telugu, you are from Andhra
-You are a South Indian in Mumbai so you cannot read Marathi, or, You are a Mumbaikar so you must be fluent in Marathi
-Your Hindi is good so you cannot be from Mumbai or a South Indian!
Some of you may think such notions are uncommon in today’s age of inter-racial families. Check if some of the below sound familiar.
-She is technically competent, she cannot be a good manager
-He is a fresh graduate, he cannot contribute to solving this problem
-I want to be a software expert so I need not develop my communication and interpersonal skills
-This person sounds genuine but one should never believe a salesperson.
Our brains are hasty pattern matching and labeling machines, we are all classification freaks. I feel better now!