We are all coloured people, no matter what shade of skin we sport. Yes? or No? This is a debate playing out in my mind for quite some time now, and no, I am not talking about evil racism or issues of ethnicity!

I am talking about how our past experiences colour our thinking, and the way we deal with our present and our future.

I am wondering whether the journey we have traveled so far, actually strips us of “clarity of thought” and “real objectivity”, and influences our perspectives and interactions in the road ahead.

There is a school of thought, that strongly believes that the actions and reactions of people, is coloured by their history, their geography, their past lives, and most importantly their upbringing and the way their mothers were and the way they dealt with them.

This past of course, includes childhood memories, securities/insecurities, family finances, education or lack of it, youth, surroundings, peers and other influencers, first job, first boss, ex-girlfriend, bossy neighbours… everything.

Yes, of course this is true! I whole heartedly agree with this thinking that our present is a summary of our past. And that the way we will deal with the future, depends upon what we learn’t in the past.

But wait a minute… is that really bad?? Does the fact that we may not be starting out on a clean slate of life, take away our ability to think straight, make correct decisions, and do the right thing?

And who decides which perspective is coloured and which is not?

Like a wise man once said “let the one who has never sinned, cast the first stone!” And the truth is, there’s not a single person on this earth, who can claim to be ‘not coloured by his or her past’.

Because, the learnings from our past, are actually what we commonly call “experience”?

So the questions really is, where does Experience cross the line, and become Negative Bias

To my mind, the crux of the matter lies in “intent”.

Where the intent is good, the perspective is uncoloured. People with ‘mutual good’ intrinsic to their intent, cannot be called coloured people in the negative sense.

But where the intent is laced with an agenda to deceive, manipulate or influence for selfish one-sided gain, it becomes a negative bias.

So the question to ask yourself when faced with a seemingly “colourful” situation is “can I trust the person? what is the intent? is it self serving, or mutually beneficial?”

If your answer is yes, you can trust the other person, because you do not believe the person would want to harm you, or cheat you out of the truth and mutual benefit – firstly, congratulations, because such people are rare to find, so hold on to them.

Then the question is, if you know the intent is good, but the issue is contentious, what do you do?

Again, the answer is simple, and a very important thing to do in relationships:

Separate the individual, from the issue at hand.

Yes, good people sometimes have crazy thoughts and can also do bad things. This doesn’t necessarily make them bad. You need to target the issue, not the person involved in it.

Because if you don’t, you yourself run the risk of being coloured in your reactions and interactions. Because your own intent will be to challenge the person you trust, rather than the issue they’re raising!

In summary, yes, we are all coloured people. And the colour we carry, is what makes us human, and enriches us with experiences that make life beautiful and exciting.

Colour is what adds life, to what would otherwise be a boring, clinical, and black ‘n white existence.

So wear your colour proudly. And of course, share it wisely!

1 COMMENT

  1. nothing beats experience in life. those who refuse to accept or learn from it are foolish and bound to lose out on some really great learnings which others have often suffered to gain. if its available to share grab it like its going out of style.

    people, especially the younger lot today live in denial of a past without them and ‘their clarity of thought’. anything that doesn’t fit in with their thinking or vision of life is considered so not cool and biased.

    i will go a step further and say we are all colored and biased. ths is good because as you pointed out color and bias make us who we are. it is also what makes up our culture, our values and our belief systems.

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