June 29th, 2017


Help Me Understand

Greg Crosby

By Greg Crosby

Published Oct. 30, 2015

Help Me Understand

For better or worse I'm a very logical, analytical kind of guy. I don't have to like everything, but if I can see the logic behind a thing, if I can understand it, even though it might not be my cup of tea, then I can come to terms with it. I need things to make sense to me. I can accept almost anything as long as I can grasp the logic of it. Case in point; I'm not into computer gaming, you know, the Xbox and PlayStation stuff. I have zero interest in it. But I can understand why lots of young men enjoy it and in some cases even get addicted to it. I get the allure of the thing.

Another example is people who feel more comfortable being with people who are like them. This came up recently in conversation with a few friends. A friend of mine (white woman) was describing a co-worker of hers who happens to be a black woman. My friend said she resented the way that person hired and related to others in their company because she tended to favor those who were black over people of other color.

I don't think what the woman is doing is right, but I told my friend that I could understand why she does it. Most people, when given the opportunity, will tend to do the same thing; i.e. hire their own kind. I've seen it happen again and again. Like it or not, it is human nature for people to want to be around and relate to people who are similar to them, either racially, culturally, intellectually or politically. It's not a consciously exclusionary thing as much as it is a comfort thing.

In work situations people should fight against their natural instincts to hire only people who are their own kind, and many succeed in doing just that, but many don't. You can call it a tribal mentality or a comfort zone or whatever, but in real life that's the way a lot of people operate. I don't like it and I've never done it, but I understand it.

When I was in positions of hiring employees I was concerned only with ability, attitude and creativity, I couldn't care less about the race, gender, ethnicity or voting habits of the person. My criterion for hiring was simple. Can this person be a constructive, valuable addition to my department? I didn't hire that way because I was such a wonderful, all-inclusive, diverse fellow; I did it because I wanted the best person I could find to do the job. Period.

Throughout the company, however, I saw it go the other way. As time went on and women were being brought in to higher positions of authority, they tended to hire more women. Gays did the same. Blacks did the same. Suddenly department bosses weren't hiring based on qualifications as much as they were hiring more people that were like them. This wasn't forced government regulations or union rules at work here, no, this was simply people hiring their own kind.

You might make the case that in previous decades white men did the same thing, but that doesn't make it any less wrong when others engage in it now.

Again, I may not like it but I understand it. It's human. It's why even at the most liberal-minded universities you'll see black students gather together in the lunch room, segregating themselves from everyone else. It's why women enjoy getting together for a "girls night." It's why men used to join "Men's clubs" (before it became labeled sexist and chauvinistic to do so). It's why liberals prefer to be with other liberals. Why religious people prefer to be with others who share the same beliefs.

And now we come to what I CAN'T understand, more than a few things that bewilder me and I can't make sense out of. Illogical things that many people engage in, that to my mind just doesn't compute. A few examples:

Can anyone explain why so many young women today feel the need to use vulgarity? Is it some cockeyed feminist way of attempting equality with men? If so, then it only succeeds to make those women equal to vulgar men. But why is vulgarity so in fashion generally? How did it become the excepted way of life? If you can explain that to me I would be grateful.

For the longest time I've groused about the multi-tattoo and multi-piercing trend that has taken hold in Western culture today. One thing I know for sure, it is no longer a passing fad, after more than twenty years of ever-increasing popularity it has become a permanent fixture of American life. I didn't get it twenty years ago, and I don't get it now. Can anyone enlighten me?

I could go on with other examples, but I'm fast running out of space. Fear not, I shall return to this at a later time.

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JWR contributor Greg Crosby, former creative head for Walt Disney publications, has written thousands of comics, hundreds of children's books, dozens of essays, and a letter to his congressman. He's also a Southern California-based freelance writer.