I’m a prejudiced idiot

By | September 23, 2008

Apparently, I’m prejudiced.

Despite all evidence to the contrary, I persisted in believing an unfounded assumption rather than taking a few minutes to find out the truth. Because of that stupidity, I missed out on some enjoyment. Luckily, I can make up for that in this case. As I’ll come back to, that’s not always true.

The name “Five for Fighting” applied to a music group immediately conjured up images of hard, driving rock music, with lots of screaming and anger. It’s just the name alone that brought that image to mind. The only music I had heard from the group at that time was “Superman (It’s Not Easy),” which is one of my favorite songs. But I persisted in my faulty image, thinking that maybe this was the song that broke their mold, and the rest of their songs were just as I imagined.

Then I heard a couple more of their songs, and they were all very nice, acoustic piano-driven songs with thoughtful lyrics and beautiful orchestration. And still I rationalized. “Maybe they do one nice song per album.”

Eventually I realized that was a stupid assumption to make and I should look into the group and see if I was missing out on something great. Still, it took a while to do anything about it. In fact, it wasn’t until I started exploring Pandora that I really found out how stupid I am.

I had a lot of my facts wrong. First off, “Five for Fighting” isn’t a group. It’s a guy. He just figured his name was harder to remember than a marketing title, and he was right. I haven’t had any trouble remembering the name (which refers to a hockey penalty) – I just associated it poorly. Which leads to my other large mistake. It’s still amazing to me that presented with nothing but music that I loved, I still had this notion that the majority of Five for Fighting’s catalog would be stuff I hated. I’ve listened to probably 15 of his songs now, and I have liked all of them. Most share the same acoustic, orchestrated, piano-led sound.

While I have a few contenders for my favorite so far, I have to give the nod to the radio hit “100 years”.

That song perfectly blends many of the elements I love. Strong rhythm piano, nice orchestration, a distinctive sound, strong solo work moving into full instrumentation, and lyrics about the passage of time and life. I’m a sucker for the “time passing” motif.

So why, presented with only music that I love, did I persist in my prejudiced viewpoint? Ignorance. Ignorance is at the heart of all prejudice.

There are people who hate others based only on their race. They don’t get to know the people or what they stand for at all – they simply believe their prejudiced views, despite evidence to the contrary. The same applies to religion and politics. There are Republicans who recoil at anything labeled “Democrat” without any knowledge of the message’s content. Likewise, there are Democrats who cringe at anything to come out of a Republican’s mouth, simply because a Republican said it, with no regard for the content of the statement (or its context).

This problem of prejudice is exacerbated by the sound-bite driven, attention-deficit guided media coverage that focuses on isolated incidents or statements with no regard to context, frequently presenting a misleading, or even wholly inaccurate, picture.

Don’t allow prejudice to guide you. Don’t be ignorant. Don’t assume that you know; know that you know. Find out the truth. You don’t have to agree with it, but discover the truth. Unlike choosing which music group to listen to, some choices can have lasting and dangerous consequences.

And on your way out, take a listen to this lesser known Five for Fighting song that I discovered after I started paying attention.

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