Mental Fixation

Yarin Kimor is a former lead reporter and producer in Israeli television and presently he is a lecturer and regarded as an expert in the creative thinking arena. In his book “The Impossible is Possible” he shares with us a script of a short, eye opening, 8 minutes film by an American student:

Midnight, we are in Harlem in New York City.  An older white woman missed the subway. Having no other choice, she has to wait in the station’s cafeteria surrounded by frightening black people. When she felt hungry she bought a meal, brought the tray to her table and returned to the counter to get some silverware. When she returned to the table she found a black man sitting there, greedily devouring her food. She looked at him helplessly. A white, old and weak woman against a bulky black man that dominated her tray. Nevertheless, she gathered the courage and sat in the chair opposite him watching his mouth chewing away. Suddenly, with determination that only a weak one that was deeply hurt can muster, she dug her fork into a piece of meat in his plate. He was surprised. A spark of anger, even violence, crossed his eyes as a result of the brutal rudeness of the weak woman. Then, immediately he calmed down and continued to eat, ignoring her actions.

Encouraged by her temporary success she dug her fork into another piece of meat. He woke from his indifference and now participated energetically in the loud duel without words – the grinding and chewing noises and the taps of their forks on the plate. Undecided battle! Until…. the lady went to fetch a napkin.

When she returned she saw that the black man was gone. The tray was empty. Disappointed and angry she looked around and suddenly noticed that on a nearby table was her original tray, full and untouched.

In that way the film director converted the viewer to become the hero of his film: he relentlessly exposed the covert racism and prejudices that cause us, the viewers, to see “an innocent white woman” and “a violent black man, immoral and inconsiderate.”

Practically, it was a mistake of a white lady sitting down in front of hungry black man who was very considerate. While the white lady was sending out her fork, inexplicably, to his tray, the black man decided, out of consideration and compassion, to share his meal with the poor woman.

And we, in the absence of sufficient data, interpreted the scene according to our fixations…

(From the book “The impossible is possible” by Yarin Kimor)

 So it is nice ‘food for thought’ with regard to mental fixations and prejudices, but it also highlights again that there is no one single truth. Robin Sharma mentioned in one of his books: “We see the world not as it really is, but according to our personal perspective. Each of us goes out into the world every day, thinking that the way he experiences the world is the true experience… and it does not necessarily reflect the facts.”

So, maybe we should take it to all sorts of arguments, in dozens of times, where we are fully convinced that we are the only ones that see things correctly….

Fireworks (46)
Shuka, Thursday, January 7, 2010

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