Governed by

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paper idol

When we meet someone for the first time, most of us automatically assume what that person’s personality and value system might be based solely on how they look, how they dress, their facial characteristics, even their body structure, how they comb their hair, how they move, if they wear glasses or a hearing aid. We constantly make assumptions that instantly change or are reinforced by vocal characteristics, the way someone smiles, our sense of their height or weight, the color of their skin. These “readings” are compounded even further when you consider that many people react differently when in work, social or family situations. For example, I am a balding, recovering introvert with a gray goatee. Make of that what you will.

That old saw about not judging a book by its cover was undoubtedly an attempt to counter this built-in, almost unconscious assessment that we all go through. Many of our uncorroborated assumptions are based on previous life experiences where we recall meeting others who were similar in appearance or body type. Our tendency is to assign to newcomers remembered personality traits and value systems belonging to others, then making modifications as facets of the newcomer’s actual personality become more apparent. We even tend to initially incorporate perceived traits based on fictional characters from literature, theater and television, even motion pictures.

We go through life constantly taking the measure of new-found friends and acquaintances, even public figures, sizing them up, making fluid ever-changing conclusions about personality, beliefs and behavior until the relationships have solidified, then usual accepting them “warts and all.”

Is there a point to all this? Actually, there is. I am not ready to accept our new governor “warts and all.” It is difficult for me to correlate his stated intentions (positive) with his accompanying actions (negative). Is his a new, breath of fresh air political viewpoint or is he just another (sigh) ego-bolstered actor who mistakes his fan-based idolatry for the perception of a great personal leadership potential? Is the glass half empty or half full? Only time will tell.

Ray Singer