Saturday, February 28, 2009

Major issues

When I started college, I had no real direction. I was good at math and physics, not a fan of history and my dream in life was to be a marine biologist. I didn't see a promising future in marine biology, what with living in a desert and all (brine shrimp, anyone? anyone?). So I signed up for some general ed classes. While at the bookstore that first semester picking up books I saw a subject I had never before heard of - sociology. Sounded weird. I picked up the book and looked at the different chapters; religion, juvenile delinquency, age, gender, family, social stratification, social change, community, deviance. It all looked so interesting compared to the rather drab books I had in my cart. So the next semester I took Intro to Sociology. And from the first day of class I was hooked.

We had guest speakers; including prostitutes, prisoners, homosexuals, and others who had violated "social norms". We went to prison and jail (just to visit!). It was the most fascinating class I had ever been in. Why do people do what they do? How do social institutions change human behavior?

I had always wondered how my brother; who was raised in the same family as me, same neighborhood as me, in the same religion as me, in the same era as me...could make such different choices and have such different goals than I had. I thought perhaps studying sociology could provide the answers.

I loved learning about trends, correlation, causation, all those sorts of things. I found myself being extremely interested in the classes about crime, delinquency, and juveniles. I listened with fascination to my favorite professor talk about research he did in the slums of Chicago. When he was cornered by gang members who took his wallet (which he had knowingly stuffed with his old, canceled credit cards and a couple of dollars) in pay for answering his survey questions. And how he was able to help his son with sociopathic tendencies develop a sense of empathy, through lots of hard work and frustration.

Did you know that as ice cream consumption rises, so does crime? Eating ice cream causes crime. It's true. Well...kind of, it's not actually true; rising temperatures cause people to eat ice cream, and likewise the heat and restlessness of summer cause people to commit more crime. I found all of the theories fascinating. Did the passing of Roe Vs. Wade result in rapidly declining crime rates 15 years later? Seems totally unrelated at first glance, but after looking into it and reading the research...I'm pretty convinced.

Anyway, given my extensive background in the subject I couldn't help but think that the lack of response to my "leave me a comment and I will send you free stuff" post was correlated to this post you know, the one with this picture...

You'll all be sorry : ) I've learned so much since then. Not really, but I can make a mean batch of cookies.

Anyway, what I walked away with after my years of schooling in sociology I can sum up in one small thought. "Don't judge because you don't know." Sounds simple. But don't judge the woman physically restraining her son in the grocery store....maybe he is prone to violent outbursts and she is trying to protect people. Don't judge the parents of rude or disobedient children, and for that matter don't judge the children themselves. Don't judge the poverty stricken and think it is because they are lazy. Don't judge the prostitute. Don't judge because perhaps if you had been born in a different family, a different time, a different place; or perhaps gone to a different school, or hadn't met that one particular friend....maybe you would be a different person. It's likely you would be. So don't judge, because you don't know.


Emily said...

Kristi, I thought I would help boost your self-esteem a little by telling you that the only reason I didn't sign up for a homemade gift from you was because of my lack of skills; if I signed up then I would have to make five things. And they would probably turn out worse than your front door.

Allisun said...

I didn't sign up for your stuff because I'm lazy and I didn't want to have to do things for other people.
Also, I love sociology too. All the stuff you were talking about, and Prof. Johnson. Seriously, so great memories! And I love all that you talked about. I also learned the same lesson, but I didn't know until you said it was because of the major. We never know what people would have done differently in different circumstances. The other thing I learned is that I'm glad that I'm the one that doesn't have to judge everyone. That would be a really hard job. I'm glad there is Someone who knows us all perfectly, and we'll leave it up to Him because he not only knows us, but he loves us too and He will take care of all of it. Thanks for the reminder, and all the thoughts you caused to be stired in my mind. I think I'll go read "There Are No Children Here" just to be reminded of all the things I learned from Sociology.

TheMoncurs said...

Have you read Freakonomics? Because it has a lot of that stuff that seems totally random but is correlated. They have a big section on the Roe v. Wade and crime rate reduction thing. Totally changed my perspective on a lot of things.

Gretchen said...

Yah, I'm in the selfish/lazy "didn't want to have to make anything for someone else" camp. Sorry.

Yah, your comments did remind me of reading Freakonomics (someone gave it to me, so I even OWN it!?!?!), Since reading it I've been simultaneously more interested in and more dubious of a lot of theories about correlations in society. I still think the idea that suggests the reduction in crime was due to the elimination of leaded gasoline is more compelling... but whatever. You know my mantra about correlation that I want to cross-stitch!

Laurie said...

I also didn't want to do things for others. What's the sociologist's perspective on all of us?
Thanks for being my one friend who kept me from turning out like my brother!

Kristi said...

Ha ha, you guys are funny! I didn't want to make stuff for people either, but I really wanted something from the person I got the thing from (Robin in Oregon!)

Karina said...

What a fun read. Now I want to take a sociology class. I'd love to talk to you more about this topic.

I'm glad you learned how not to judge from a class. For me, it took some hard life lessons straight from the Man above.

I've always wondered how other people learned how to not judge.

Jan said...

(I had always wondered how my brother; who was raised in the same family as me, same neighborhood as me, in the same religion as me, in the same era as me...could make such different choices and have such different goals than I had. I thought perhaps studying sociology could provide the answers.)

Did I miss the answer to this question? I always wondered about that too.

On the other hand, we have 5 children and each one is so different from each other, each child brought their own Joys and problems into my life, is there a child I would have chose NOT to have? NOPE. As different as each of my children are, I love each one for their own individual qualities. You're right, it is best not to judge others :)

sww said...

Okay Kristi, I am coming out of the blog stalking world to boost your self esteem:) I would have commented to get something homemade from you, but I don't have a blog. So sad. Oh, and just a thought, sand the door down a little and call it vintage!


Anonymous said...

Dang, I thought I was so smart when I was going to come leave a comment about how you would love the book Freakonomics. I guess smart friends are a dime a dozen in Texas.

And I also thought I would "boost your self-esteem" by telling you that I only didn't comment on the chain gang post because I didn't want to make 5 things myself. I guess kind, caring, sympathetic friends are a dime a dozen in Texas too.

That's what I like about Texas.

Jennifer said...

So after reading some of your other comments I see I am not alone in my reasons for not wanting to participate in the free stuff campaign. I too just didn't want to have to send people stuff that I made. Not that I don't think I could make something cute...because I am sure I could, I just would never get around to sending it. I am so bad at sending things in the mail. I would die if I couldn't pay my bills online. I'm just really bad at remembering. So, just so you know, I have total confidence you could make something fabulous, its me who is the unreliable one.
Oh, and I agree, we shouldn't judge because we don't know! =)

Bonnie said...


I think your brother hung out with my brothers growing up. My brothers probably tainted your brother. Yes, I know I'm judging. I say this because mine still don't live productive lives. Just saying I know how you feel(same home, parents, etc, etc).

I'm sorry I've been a blog stalker. Reading your blog makes me feel a little closer to home being 4 states away and all. Yes I live in Texas too. I live in Dallas now but I used to live in Austin and work at Round Rock Medical Center. Isn't where you had your last two?

Kristi you've always been funny!!! Funny as a kid and FUNNY now as a Mom with three beautiful kids. Some things never change. Kinda like your Mom's hair!!! She always had cool hair.

Hi Jan :)

Thanks for making me feel not so home sick. It's nice knowing you're here too.

Bonnie Gragg (Jephson)

Kristi said...

I've totally read Freakonomics and loved it! If only I would have read that book then I wouldn't have majored in sociology. I told Blaine it was like all of the interesting parts of my major...and none of the social theory or research methods or social statistics fall asleep stuff!

Melissa Ash said...

I am in the same category as the others as to why I didn't enter the little giveaway thing. I am really horrible at just getting around to cleaning my house lately, that the thought of making something and then sending it to five people was just something I could not face right now! Sorry! I am sure you can really make a mean batch of cookies!!