Throughout this trip, hell the reason I even took the trip was to leave my comfort zone and question my own biases, prejudices and judgements.
But when something is so embedded, so reinforced, it is hard to change. And I felt this at its purest yesterday morning.
I was sitting in a lounge chair and a family came up and sat next to us by the beach. They were speaking German (I think) and immediately I went to a dark place of judgment and hatrid. Almost nothing over the course of my life painted Germans in a good light. From the Holocaust to The invasion of Normandy, just the sound of that language has triggered a visceral reaction. I hated these people next to me.
And then I paused for a second.
I asked myself: “What do I not know about this situation?”
1) What if they were not speaking German? I mean I am no linguist and not bilingual.
2) What if they are recent transplants to Germany and had nothing to do with their history?
3) What if they hate everything about what Germany did during that period and they probably weren’t alive at that point?
4) What if they helped save Jews during the holocaust?
Any or all of these are possible. So why do I judge them immediately with nothing other than the rules of my universe and what I alone have experienced over 45 years?
I judge because I am human, but also because I never bothered to check if my biases were fair.
And these crazy judgements have cost me opportunities for connections like perhaps with this family next to me.
It is hard to call out myself on this stuff, and a work in progress.
But it is getting easier each time to question my biases and admit I know almost nothing about the people around me.