A boy thought he was good at persuading for his age.
He almost always succeeded to change his friends’ disagreeing opinions, so he had been satisfied with his persuasion skills.
However, as time went by, he could see people not changing their opinions in his favor although he still had good reasonings.
Looking back and thinking carefully, he could figure out why.
He was not actually persuading them.
He succeeded to change their opinions but failed to change their minds.
The people could feel him being indifferent to their opinions.
He would only listen to their opinions to find the holes in them, to prove their errors.
He talked to them on the premise that his thoughts were right.
He was not having a conversation with them. He was giving them lectures and forcing his ideas into them, which no one asked for.
In your life, you are the main character. You’re the protagonist, the hero, the heroine. However, you are just a passerby in others’ lives.
Whether an opinion is right or not depends on what perspective we see it from. An absolute idea in history can be the most ridiculous thing in the future; someone might not like what I like; a homeless person can be happy while a girl thinks him to be unhappy.
No one can guarantee the future, and not one opinion is absolutely right. Therefore, the point of conversations lies on sharing different ideas.
So, why even bother to talk to people if you know that you will not consider their ideas as an option and only emphasize your idea again and again?
I went to the Libbey Park construction site in Ojai, CA, as a volunteer today.
From Ojai Valley School there were only five female volunteers, including myself.
Wearing dark green OVS T-shirts, the volunteers checked in and drank Gatorade, having no idea what to do.
Ally Su, one of the five girls, expected the volunteer work to be taking care of little kids.
However, what was waiting for her were a huge pile of mulch, shovels, and wheelbarrows.
At first, we had fun.
Mr. Alvarez, our peacekeeper, came to us after parking the school van and took pictures of us shoveling, and we would make stupid poses and faces.
However, as the photographer left and we continued the work, it became more and more painful.
“I think we are going to get blisters on our hands,” Said Ally. Thirty minutes from then, I could see an already-popped blister on my palm.
After repeating filling and emptying the wheelbarrows for about an hour, we became all exhausted. Our faces had layers of dirt on them, and our hands had turned red.
We found ourselves the only ones working without gloves. We’ve been complaining about it the whole time, and I found out that we were actually the only ones who did not know that we could get them from the tool check-in center behind us.
We had pizza with lemonade for lunch, wanting to go back home. However, there came a truck with another pile of mulch. Sighing, we got back to work.
The teenage girls had become shoveling experts at some point. We shoveled so fast that we had to wait for other workers to make more space to pour the mulch.
“Stephanie [Shin] found her future job,” Said Ally Su.
After half an hour of eating and two hours of shoveling, we headed back home.
First, we drove to Ally’s house only to find it locked.
Then, we went to Starbucks and met another school van with Mrs. Cooper in it.
After we got our drinks, Mr. Alvarez dropped Ally off at her house, “shh-ing” when she tried to tell him the directions.
As soon as I got back on campus, I took a shower and found two things: dirty water coming off of my body and another blister on my thumb.
It sets up very dramatic situations, involves ordinary people in them, and watches their reactions to the dilemmas given, with the hidden cameras rolling.
It usually deals with serious social issues, and a lot of its episodes have unexpected touching results, in which people step up and take action without hesitation in order to do the right thing.
However, in this particular episode, the result surprised me in a quite different way.
It takes place at a family restaurant in Utah, where African-Americans take up only 0.05% of its population.
In this scenario, a white girl introduces her black boyfriend to her father. Unlike what she expects, the father rejects her boyfriend because of his race.
As she rushes out of the restaurant with her boyfriend, an old lady sitting next to his table talks to the father. “I am with you,” She says. “I think they should stay with their own.”
A woman behind her, nodding in agreement, is brought to tears.
“I have a daughter,” She tells her story in a shaky voice. “She has a friend that’s black… I told her, “He’s fine to be your friend, you are never going to get involved with him…” They were just friends, but… I worried about that.”
Then, the old lady adds her racist comment: “A pretty girl like her would pick something like that.”
Trying not to get emotional about her cutting comments, dying inside, the actor keeps the conversation going, asking if he is wrong.
“I was very proud of you,” The old lady responds. “Because that’s a shock to anybody.”
When the reporter of the show, John Quiñones, shows up in the restaurant, explains her about the show, and interviews her, the old lady tells us about her strong belief.
“I’m sorry,” She says. “If you are white, you are white. If you are colored, you go with colored people. And keep it in your family. Don’t put it in somebody else’s.”
She ends her comments with another incomprehensible statement: “It’s alright if you are a Mexican person, they are still white people,” She explains. “But black people and white people, no. I’m sorry, it breaks my heart.”
Finally, Quiñones introduces the man who acted a black boyfriend to the old lady. As they shake their hands, the guy asks her for a hug.
To my surprise, as she gives him a hug, she says, “You know, but I just think we should stay with our own, don’t you?”
This Episode shocked me. I thought racism was dead in America.
As an international student in California, I never considered rejecting an interracial couple as an option.
I heard of the word, “colored people,” for the first time in my life when I was studying To Kill a Mockingbird in my English class. Also, I was surprised when I learned that the setting of the story was within less than a hundred years.
Some people might think that racism no longer exists in America. However, for a lot of people, racism is still a big issue in their lives. A big chunk of generations was taught to be racist in its youth.
Now, the real question is, how should we react to this issue?
The episode ends with an interview with the African-American actor.
Quiñones asks, “She even hugged you. How did that feel?”
“Very weird, but I believe in people,” the actor answers. “I wanted her to know that, no matter what she thought, I was still going to shake her hand and I was still going to hug her because that’s how I am.”
All of us can easily find an example of conformity in our lives.
However, it is depicted as destructive and discouraging most of the time. Why does it have such a negative connotation?
After World War 2, when the men came back from the army and had become accustomed to community solidarity and conformity, a heavy social atmosphere was created, in which non-conformists were often treated as social outcasts.
However, such an unstable social atmosphere, which eventually built the limit to individual creativity and freedom, was soon criticized, and conformity was considered as a factor of it.
Published in 1948, “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson gives an extreme example of an indoctrination. In “The Lottery,” as an old custom, a town annually holds a lottery, of which the winner receives a brutal death by his close neighbors and families.
However, no one knows the purpose of the murder or questions it.
Illustrating the townspeople’s insensitivity to the tradition’s cruelty and irrationality under conformity pressure, Jackson shows the perils of people being conformists without thinking critically about the consequences.
As individuality and freedom have been highly respected in the 21st century, in 2015, conformity does not oppress people as much.
Rather, unlike its general impression, it might have some positive influence on people while they do not recognize it.
Conformity can reduce the new kinds of social pressure. For example, a lot of teenagers distress themselves thinking about how to express themselves as outstanding individuals.
They worry about their looks constantly, and those of who are not able to follow the trends often feel very insecure about themselves. Wearing uniforms, which is viewed as a form of conformity these days, can change the pressure to a sense of fitting in.
Conformity can create a culture. Since humans are highly socialized animals, they constantly build their cultures as they interact with each other.
Today, information floods, and things change fast. New technologies are developed every day, and unfamiliar trends spread all over the globe in one day.
Therefore, people who cannot catch up with the fast-changing trends might feel lost in society.
Then, conformity can function as a standard; it offers people opportunities to stay in the majority without particularly standing out.
It is true that conformity created a great social pressure in the past. However, as our society has changed a lot, it is important look at it from a different viewpoint.
Conformity can have some good effects on our society unlike its negative impression.