Monday, November 19, 2012

Segregation


                Segregation (n): The action or state of setting someone or something apart from other people or things or being set apart

          I was summoned for jury duty today.  The jury duty itself was anti-climatic - four hours of waiting around only to be dismissed before jury selection began.  What struck me, however, was the assortment of people around me.  Jury duty, along with voting and identification, is the great equalizer. People are summoned regardless of gender, race, or socioeconomic status.  The result is a mixture of people that would never be thrown together otherwise.  
          I go through life surrounded by people that are similar to me.  Most of the people that I know I met through school, work, or leisure activities.  As diverse as my interests are, there is a limit to how many people I meet or the type of people I meet.  The people I associate with on a regular basis share a common bond with me. 
          People segregate according to shared values, culture, and social status.  We do this because identifying with people like ourselves is easy.  Friendship is an organic process that develops out of a shared bond; by that standard, most of our friends will be an echo of who we are.  I live in a city that echoes this trait on a larger scale – if you tell me your ethnicity and socioeconomic status, then I can make a pretty good guess as to which neighborhood you live in. 
Standing in the line at the courthouse, I struck up a conversation with a guy holding a Bible.  He was a youth pastor; I asked him about the training a minister is expected to go through.  This is not my usual conversation; I felt ill-at-ease, as though I had a big red “A” for agnostic tattooed on my forehead.  I am guessing that this youth minister probably felt the same way talking to a woman that seemed clueless about the basics of church leadership. 

7 comments:

  1. Sounds like an interesting conversation, even if a little uncomfortable. Maybe that could be your new year's resolution, to talk to at least one person each month that you have to go out of your way to find because you wouldn't meet them in your "normal life." :-)

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    1. I am hoping the awkward conversations will become more natural.

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  2. I would say that it is too bad. Conversations with people from different backgrounds and beliefs can open our eyes and make us think of things we hadn't before. In any case, people are interesting. Everyone has a story, and I enjoy hearing them.

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  3. Serving on a jury was a truly gratifying experience for me, also a maddening one, for some of the reasons you just described.

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    1. Sounds like you have a good story there. :$

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  4. What did you learn from the conversation with the youth pastor? Did he learn anything new from you, a nonbeliever who comes from a very different social world than he? I find that conversations with people who are different from us can show us new facets of human life.

    This might sound corny, but a great way to meet people who are very different from you is to volunteer. I've had conversations with people from different backgrounds through the different community groups I volunteer with, and it's fascinating.

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    1. We talked about the training necessary to become a youth pastor - we both agreed that there needs to be more regulations than what is happening now. I still don't feel comfortable talking about my own agnosticism but it was a nice chat.

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