I have two flavors of socks in my drawer, both black.  For around 30 years I’ve been getting the same kind of black socks, and I’ve grown accustomed to them.  Last year I received some additional black socks as a gift.  They are thicker, so when I go looking for a pair of socks to put on, they tend to get shoved to the back of the drawer, until I run out of my regular socks.

But, as time passes I push them back less often, as I’ve finally got used to them.  I still prefer my other socks, but I’m not offended by the new ones.  I realize the day may soon come where I won’t even think about if they are thick or thin, but just get a pair and put them on.

Of course, I’m not talking about socks.  I’m talking about biases.  And, I know, many of you are saying, “But, I have no biases.”  Ha.  The worse kind of biases are those we don’t even recognize we have.  Truth is, we all have biases, of one kind or another.  Some biases are harmless – I prefer Granny Smith apples over Red Delicious ones, for example.  But, some are very harmful – I prefer a white salesman over a black one, or vice-versa.

Biases are everywhere and not just limited to race or origin, although that seems to be the things the press focuses most of their attention on.  There are biases between poor and rich, young and old, pretty and ugly, big and little, smart and less-smart, educated and illiterate, white collar and blue collar, big house and little house, homeowners and renters, vegetarians and meat eaters, the list is quite big.

We make judgments and calls on things and people everyday, choosing one over the other.  Sometimes we do this without even thinking about it.  We shove the socks we don’t prefer to the back of the drawer and only engage them when we have run out of the ones we prefer.

But, biases can be conquered.  But, let’s not fool ourselves, overcoming biases is hard work.  Constant work.  It requires changing how we think, feel, and react.  For example, I know I will have conquered my preference of socks, when I’m able to reach in the drawer and not care about which sock type I pull out, put them on, and go through my day without one time thinking about the choice I made.  When that day arrives I will have put my biases to rest.  In the process, I expect to find that what I thought were unshakable preferences weren’t founded on good reasons, and that the new socks are just as good as the old ones, and maybe even better.  When that happens, then I’ve opened the door to other experiences where I reserve my prejudgment until I have gained more experience.

Just as an experiment, try this one out.  Maybe at church, at work, or at your social function, there is someone you would rather not shake hands with.  When it cannot be avoided you shake their hand and smile, but it is not genuine.  Mostly you try to avoid them.  Now, the challenge is to find a way to conquer your biases, feelings, and reactions.  The only way I know of to do this is you must engage your biases head-on.  That’s right, you must find that person and make sure you shake their hand every-time the opportunity makes itself available.  And, instead of a ‘fake’ smile you must learn to find the ‘real’ one.  Of course, this change does not take place overnight.   Like most everything else in life practice makes perfect.  Maybe when shaking hands you try to find out a bit about the person.  Not much, just a little.  Why?  Because the more you know someone the less offensive they may become to you.  Who knows?  You might find you have more in common than you thought.  At some point, if you continue to work this, you will find you have managed to stop shoving the thicker socks to the back of the drawer.

So, what is the alternative?  The alternative is to hold onto your biases, your hatred, and other harmful feelings.  These things will eat away at you like a disease, until finally there is not much left, and what is left is not very desirable.

We all have biases.  But, we don’t have to leave it that way.  Conquering our biases is not a one day job, it will take time.  And as I’ve stated, practice makes perfect, so if you fail, you try again.  My intention is to leave this life while still trying.  I may not get there totally, but I’ll leave still trying.  What about you?

One Response to “Socks”

  1. Barbara McGuire Says:

    Such a great blog and good food for thought! I doubt I will ever put pastor’s socks in the drawer again without thinking about this blog so bottom line….you wrote something that will really stick! Thanks! And blessings…..

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