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.