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Consider This - May

By LC Van Savage

Appearances Ought Not To Matter, But...

When you were a kid, was that old clichť "never judge a book by its cover" pounded into you? (Meaning of course, that we must not judge people by their appearances, but from whatís within them.) It was hammered at me. But while thatís a noble thought, I really do think we kind of believe what we see on the outside of a human is what we think is going on in their insides.

Michael Jackson is a good example. I donít know if heís guilty of what heís been accused, but I hear lots of folks say he is, because; "heís a creep. Look at this face. His nose. His skin color. At the way he dresses and acts. Get real! Heís definitely guilty." Why? Because heís weird? Oh please. See, hereís the thing. This is America and Iíd always thought we could appear in public any way we wished, within the laws of decency of course, and by that I mean itís imprudent to walk about starkers as it causes accidents.

And then on another chat show (clearly Jackson is more important to us than wars, natural disasters, civil rights, education or health care issues) an audience member announced that, "thereís just no way Michael could do that. Why, Iíve been watching that lovely family for years on TV and itís just simply not possible one of those wonderful Jackson kids could do such a terrible thing." I thought I was gonna be sick.

I remember once listening to a talk show (I seem to do that a lot, donít I?) as I drove somewhere and the discussion w/the audience was murderers. One man was questioned about the Murderer of the Month, I forget who it was, and this guy said into the mike, "Heís no killer. He canít be. He doesnít look like one." "Really," said the MC. "And what exactly does a killer look like?" "Well," said this paragon of acumen, "you know, torn jeans, a tank top, long hair. An earring." I was outraged. Heíd just described a lot of my friends.

Remember the book "Mommie Dearest?" The author, Christina Crawford, adopted daughter of the great glam queen of the 30s and on, Joan Crawford, told the world in that book that her mother was not precisely the doting, adoring and gushing mother- image she put out for the public to see. Christina took a lot of heat for that book; sheíd had the gall to bring down this beautiful, famous movie star to the level of a crazy, flawed human being. Many didnít believe her because, yes, once again, people were quoted in all the media that, "There is no way that lovely Joan Crawford could possibly have done all that or been that way. How do I know? Iíve seen all her movies. Christina is a liar!"

See? We give too much relevance to clothing, hairstyles, make-up, tattoos and attitudes, and form our opinions from all of that superficial stuff. Do I ever do that? Sure, but Iím working on it. And Iím aware the way we physically see people sometimes might broadcast the way they really are within. For example, the thug whoís about to relieve you of your credit cards and cash quite possibly is down deep what he appears to be while standing in front of you with his great big gun. Nonetheless, itís really our job, is it not, to get past all that and to peer into the guts, souls and minds of people. Perhaps not at that exact moment with him, but during less stressful times of our lives.

Because you see, if weirdness or poor fashion choices made us automatically guilty of crimes, all of us would be spending our remaining years staring at life from between the bars of the local hoosegow. So Iíll work harder at seeing peopleís withins if you will, OK?  

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