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In order to coexist with others at
home, work and the communities in which I have lived, I realized that the best
strategy is to let every person I interact with express himself or herself
without limitations or judgement. With such an approach, I learn a lot from
people, especially since everyone is usually honest and forthcoming with
information if they know that no one is judging them for anything they say. In
my personal interactions with people, I usually never care about their age,
ethnicity or other demographic factors because I understand that all people
have the need to be treated with respect, humility and consideration. The
description I have for myself in my personal interactions is that I am
anarchist whose principle is live and let
live. However, living this way has its challenges because, although I do
love treating every person I interact with fairly, like any other person, I do
get into arguments and disagreement with the people I have interactions with in
my day-to-day life.

One time, I was having a
philosophical argument with a friend on one of the most important life
questions; the very meaning of life, and if there is a purpose to existence on
this world. During this argument, we took opposite sides, and, in such
arguments, people usually never make concessions because one would have to
admit that his or her religious beliefs might be incorrect. As we were having an
intense argument, I started to realize that, although we were on opposite sides
of the argument, my friend was making a lot of sense in his argument, and I
agreed with part of it. Instead of accepting that my agreement had everything
to do with the quality of his agreement, he indicated that the only reason I
agreed with him is that I am an anarchist. This experience showed me that,
regardless of how a person perceives himself or herself, the perceptions of
others are usually guided by presumptions made about a person in order to classify
him among a set group of people.

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Sociocultural and Political Economic Connections of My Experience

As a person of Indian descent,
whenever people interact with me, they make assumptions based on my physical
appearance regardless of my personal beliefs, life perspectives and live
philosophy. Generally, the assumption is that an Indian looking human being
always behaves like the stereotypical and prejudicial beliefs that people have
about Hinduism and other related cultural aspects (Hunsberger & Jackson, 2005). In this regard, the religion
in which most of the members are of Indian descent determines how everyone is
perceived and treated regardless of his or her interaction with others with whom
he or she shares an ethnic background. Since I am fairly well travelled, I have
interacted with people in areas with varying degrees of cultural diversity,
which determines the perceptions that people have towards me. When interacting
with people in places where the most population members are Indians, my place
in the community is determined less by my physical appearance (Robinson, 2005). In these settings, my
position in society is determined by other factors like socioeconomic class, of
which I belong in the upper middle class based on the economy and other
variables in the place in which I live.

However, as I change my location,
my status adjusts in line with my position in society relative to the place in
which I live, as well as the socioeconomic and ethnic characteristics of the
people with whom I interact. In multicultural places like major cities, I
usually find myself among the minority ethnic groups, and my physical
appearance plays a greater role in how people see me and interact with me. In
these settings, the assumption is usually that I am of Indian descent, so I
must share all the stereotypical and prejudicial characteristics that are
shared by other Indians. The difference between how I am perceived, and the
change in my social status as indicated here is as a result of changes in the
demographic composition of the place in which I am staying (Zarate, Garcia, Garza, & Hitlan, 2004). These perceptions are
usually not conscious, whereby people do not usually make a decision to be
discriminative or presumptive, but the subconscious process leads them to
behave differently regardless of how they feel about me. My understanding of
the basis of how people behave towards others depending on their ethnic or
racial background serves as one of the reasons I have taken a somewhat
anarchist approach to life.

My experience with my friend, who is
of Anglo-Saxon descent, was affected by how a person changes in social status
depending on the people with whom he or she interacts and the context in which
the interaction occurs. Since the interaction occurred in a setting in which
there are no political or economic reasons to be discriminative, I understood
it to mean that my friend’s subconscious is driven by ideas that he has but
cannot express about people of other racial and ethnic backgrounds. For
instance, due to religious and cultural reasons, Indians are usually assumed to
be pacifists, with the most popular pacifist Indian being Gandhi who used a nonviolent
approach in leadership (Ojwang, 2005). Based on this assumption
about people of Indian decent, by approach of taking an anarchist approach to
discussions and arguments, it seems like I am confirming and propagating the
stereotype. Instead, I am usually just trying to be reasonable and avoid
unnecessary disagreements whenever possible, although I do have my fair share
of disagreements. 

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