Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 10
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

    Out of his element: Seeing past the differences

    by Tom Poole

    I find it odd when people tell me I have an accent.

    I guess I never noticed it before. For some reason, people think I sound like I’m from Canada. They say the way I pronounce my vowels is strange, which is interesting because I think the same way about them.

    This week my coworker told me what he thought of people from the West Coast. He said it’s all a bunch of pot smoking, liberal hippies. When I mentioned that I attend a liberal arts college in the middle of the Pacific Northwest, he scoffed, noting that it must be one of the most liberal places on earth.

    And he is right.

    Often we forget that our own upbringing is different from others around the country. It’s funny how people make locational stereotypes, and interesting to see how I am characterized by location.

    One of the first things people ask when you meet them is, “Where are you from?” Interestingly, people seem to instantly form opinions based on this. Even within a metropolitan area, one learns the reputation and stereotypes. I quickly learned the characteristics of different areas in my city, and how people from those locations are viewed by others.

    But when you are enclosed within a specific area for a long time, it becomes more difficult to notice flaws; more difficult to critique. The truth is, not everyone in America, let alone the world, holds the same ideologies as Whitman students. And yet some tend to forget this and have little understanding for those who were raised differently.

    Those who were raised to abhor racism don’t realize that racism is something that is taught, acquired, just like the liberal values they themselves hold. Similarly, it is difficult to challenge these standards that seem almost innate.

    And yet, when exposed to an environment outside our comfort zone, we see how things really are different, and that we ourselves have traits, values that are unique to us.

    The important thing is to try to see past political, racial, and even locational differences and try to understand those who are different from ourselves. Because in the end, though we all have individuality, we can still find commonality. We are all people, doing the best we can.

    Even as Americans we have our differences, and yet we are similar: united in many ways, though singular in some.

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