Christmas Getting Out of Prison

I like to think myself as seeing people as they truly are, looking beyond labels. This morning I realized just how shallow I can be.

I first heard about Sam a few months ago. He is one of my neighbor’s brothers and she told me he was getting out of prison just before Christmas. At the time I didn’t give it much thought, just conversation. She was excited she would finally get to see him again. I was happy for her, ’cause I’m such a caring, compassionate guy.

Today she was coming up the stairs while I was on the balcony, Sam was behind her. She introduced us. I remembered the conversation from months ago and realized he had just gotten out after an 18 year stint.

We talked for the next hour or so. About his plans. About how his life had changed in the time he was “away.” He was smart, articulate, positive. He owned his choices and was quick to point out life had been more than fair to him. He paid the price for the choices he had made and he believed he would also pay the price or reap the reward for the choices he is making now.

He’s a guy I could hang out with and have a good time.

But here’s what it showed me about myself I didn’t like. When I went back into Area 51 after our talk, I was surprised by him. Without me even realizing it, I had in my own mind a “picture” of what an 18 year ex-con would be like. Seeing himself as a victim. Unintelligent. Negative. Angry at what the world had thrown at him.

It made me wonder how many other “categories” of people I dismiss without realizing they are “people” not just a category. Political affiliation. Religion or lack thereof. Skin color. Geography. Socioeconomic status. Job.

In 2017 I’m going to attempt to see more “people” and less “category.” That might be the best Christmas gift I could receive. Thanks Sam.








10 Comments on “Christmas”

  1. We were just discussing this same thing at work today: how we apply stereotypes to how we view and treat people.

    Categorising is a natural instinct we developed for efficiency and safety. However, there are times when it’s a little too efficient and we miss out on great opportunities or form bad conceptions of good people, because of the inherent biases it perpetuates.

    Thanks for sharing. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • I do see the utility in it, but if it keeps me from seeing people as people, that’s my concern. One of the big things going on in the US right now is how we view people who didn’t agree with our particular political views.

      I don’t want to be that person.

      Liked by 3 people

  2. ron877 says:

    Unfortunately, the stereotypes exist for a reason. The number who fit into the mold possibly outnumber those that don’t. During the time I worked “inside” (a common requirement for sheriff’s deputies) I was many times surprised by the thoughtful, articulate, people who had run afoul of arcane and silly laws. Incarceration for marijuana use was ridiculous and it built resentful people of the stereotype mentioned. The same was (and is) true of some of the white collar criminals. Some of them had committed crimes which were later judged not to be crimes. They had just pushed the envelope before technology, public acceptance, and laws caught up. Then there was another group who truly changed as a result of self-realization and growth.

    It goes back to your excellent point. Let’s look at people and not labels. This was a nice, appropriate post for the season. Good reflections.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, I get that. The reason the axiom of “You can’t judge a book by its cover” exists is because most of the time, you can judge a book by its cover.

      I just want to get over the blindness by seeing people as they are.

      Thanks, as always, for your comments, Ron. Merry Christmas or whatever you do to celebrate the winter solstice.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Just Me says:

    I’m not a robot. 😉

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Just Me says:

    Heh. I’m still not a robot! Merry Holidays….

    Liked by 1 person

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