I make assumptions.
For instance, I think it's safe to assume that most of you have long since gotten the news about what happens when you assume. Perhaps you even remember, as I do, a long ago teacher dusted with chalk and a heightened sense of his own cleverness, writing out the word "assume" on the blackboard and then, accompanied by strategically timed underlining, saying, "You know what happens when you assume? You make an ass [ass] out of you [u] and me [me]."
From the first time I heard it, I failed to understand why you would be branded an ass for my assumption--it smacked of blaming the victim. Imagine my bafflement then, years later when I heard Al Franken's Stuart Smalley quip, "Because when you assume, you make an ass out of Uma Thurman."
Regardless of who exactly is made into an ass, I've always accepted that making assumptions--especially about other people--is a fundamentally assy thing to do.
Assumptions, generalizations, stereotypes are mostly inaccurate, often unfair and occasionally even dangerous. Knowing about a person is not the same thing as knowing that person. Just because I know your political leanings, doesn't mean I know your heart. Just because I know your religious beliefs, doesn't mean I know your mind.* For that matter, there are plenty of valid reasons why you might be at the grocery store in your pajamas at 2:24 in the afternoon, most of which have nothing to do with the impending collapse of civilization and, more importantly, my reflexive rush to judgment serves no constructive purpose for you, for me or for civilization as a whole. I not only believe these things to be true, I have direct personal experience with the consequences of forgetting how true they are.
Still, I spend a lot of time consciously talking myself down from the ledge that hangs out over the conclusions I'm so eager to jump to. I suppose stopping myself before I jump is a kind of progress, but if I were a real grown-up, I don't think I would spend so much time up on that ledge in the first place.
U is for Uma Thurman
*That said, I do believe that how you choose to express those political leanings and religious beliefs can be genuinely revealing.
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