Monday, October 8, 2007

Putting the Tree in Its Forest

I cringe slightly when people say that they are a good judge of character, as if character is one universal ideal that we judge all persons against. Some people are better at judging than others, thats for sure, but the character they speak of can only be the criteria that they specifically are concerned with. Someone only has “good character” relative to what someone else thinks. Its like saying I am a good judge of height, from where I stand he looks tall. You get the idea.

I realized that I am a bad judge of something else concerning individuals, actually many things, but I will only focus on one here. I am terrible at figuring out what larger framework someone’s views represent.

As in, I can asses your views and what I think of them in our small conversation over tea, but I am not also realizing that the views that you speak of represent a certain political leaning, philosophy or world-view. In a way this may lead to less stereotyping, because I dont know with what stereotype to associate someone with. This phenomenon is especially apparent when I am dealing with older, seasoned people who have some rich history of knowledge and are aware where they themselves fall in the order of things. Its probably exacerbated by my lack of knowledge of the history of thought in general. I should probably learn more about each forest so when I meet a tree I know where it belongs.


  1. I like your forest and tree analogy. Is it a colloquialism that I never heard of or did you create it yourself? It's great.

  2. I did not create it, but I am glad that you like it in this context.

    When someone “cant see the forest for the trees” it means that they are overly concerned with detail; not understanding the whole situation.