Our minds are lazy and want to take the easy way out. Impatiently demanding to classify what it sees with the least amount of effort based on its own experience. Efficiency reigns king. It takes a lot of brain power to live with uncertainty and patiently wait to understand the truth. A common emergency response statement is "the first reports are always wrong". This applies to people as well. I look at someone and the combination of a lazy brain that wants to conserve energy, with a quick classification, and my own pride, that reminds me I am always right, ensures I spend a lot of time being wrong.
I do, however, have a perfect record of identifying the physical characteristics of a podcast guest upon completion of the conversation. I have been wrong 100% of the time. It is great sport to spend a couple hours listening to an engaging conversation with a fascinating person, who has found great success in their respective field, and have no idea what they look like. By the end of the discussion, I am giddy with excitement about bumping into them on the street and conduct a Google query to learn that my imagination missed the mark, again.
Yep, my temptation is to serve the beautiful, rich and famous first, then take care of what I perceive as the normal crowd, then take care of who is left. Yes, I know that is wrong and that is where the purposeful internal battle ensues. I intentionally don't identify the race or gender of the person that cut me off in traffic so I don't develop muscle memory that classifies "all (fill in the blank) are poor drivers". I grew up in a very white neighborhood and the predominant black influence in my formative years was the Huxtable family, the guys getting caught on COPS or those I saw on the news. I have to purposely re-write my own snap judgment about the young black male driving a Mercedes. Assuming he is not the drug dealer, but rather a successful doctor, engineer or entrepreneur.
This is a complicated life and at times, I am my own worst enemy, however, the war is being waged. Keep your book cover; I am working on my own re-write and so might at least one other.
Going Further: What people groups do you judge most often? When have you been wrong about someone? What is a step you can take to re-write your default assumptions? What other questions on this topic sting?