Take the time to pass good judgement

People like everything ASAP these days. If it takes more than a couple of seconds to load a webpage, the internet is too slow. If a gourmet meal takes more than a few minutes to reach the table, the service is too slow. We want everything now if not sooner. We are a culture of instant gratification, short-term memory, and soundbytes.

Yet there is something to be said for taking time to do things right or to truly learn and understand about something. For example, a couple of years ago, Disney put out a new film version of The Lone Ranger. There was a sudden uproar about the portrayal of Native Americans (still an asinine term), especially with Johnny Depp’s portrayal of Tonto, the stereotypical “noble savage” from the original TV show. I just saw this film, and I am willing to bet that most of the people who protested it never even saw it. Here’s why:

If people had taken time to see it they would have discovered that the film completely deconstructs Tonto’s character right down to the name, which means “dumbass” in Spanish, when The Ranger meets members of the Cherokee nation as he tries to stop a war between them and the white settlers supported by a cavalry regiment from the US Army. These well-depicted Cherokee inform The Ranger as well as the audience that Tonto was a boy when he was involved with a disaster in his tribe that made him insane. He is an outcast of the Cherokee and delusional. In fact the film is so sympathetic to all the downtrodden of the US — the “natives,” the Chinese, the former slaves, and women — that the only good WHITE person in the movie is The Ranger and he isn’t “typical” as he abhors violence, especially guns, and isn’t that good a shot with one when he finally tries to use one. The entire meaning of the film is that this country was built on the backs of everyone who wasn’t white, male, and rich. It is a metaphor for the oligarchy of today. Hell, it isn’t even much of a metaphor because it’s so obvious by the end.

My point is not that if people had spent time to watch the film they would have seen it’s actually pretty good. It’s that no one really took the time to actually LEARN what the movie was about and gain the knowledge necessary to pass judgement. Instead people just jumped all over the one trailer they saw and denounced the film. In fact, if the film had become more popular, it may have started a larger conversation about the treatment of the native tribes as well as minorities and women in this country when it was forming and today. It might have made people consider the domination of the very wealthy over the rest of us and how the government seems to only respond to the wants of them rather than the majority of people.

The same goes for everything in the US now. If nothing happens in the first two pages of a book, it’s boring. If nothing blows up or no one dies within the first ten minutes of a movie, it’s boring. If kids don’t learn everything in a subject instantly, then the teacher must be doing something wrong. (What, you thought I wasn’t going to bring this to education somehow?)

Don’t take time to smell the roses unless you see some, and you like the smell of roses. Take time to learn, to understand, to know something before you judge it. My senior students learned about this when they read Pride and Prejudice, which is what the whole book is basically about. The concept has been around a long time, but people don’t adhere to it very well. We all make judgements, so stopping that isn’t going to happen, but we could hold back just a few minutes and get all the information before taking a side on an issue.

Just stop and think for a minute. Why else do you have a brain inside your head? If you just want to act on gut instinct all the time, you only need a spinal column, the cerebrum, and the hypothalamus. The rest of the grey matter is completely wasted on you.


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