Guest Post - Zoe Weil

by: Heather on 05/01/2009
Posted in: Guest Posts

This just in from Zoe Weil, author of The Power and Promise of Humane Education, Above All Be Kind, and So You Love Animals. (This entry was originally posted on Zoe Weil's blog and is reprinted with permission.)

That's the Funny Thing About Judgments and Assumptions...

This past weekend I led a MOGO (Most Good) Workshop at Bard College. My car had broken down the night before, and so I borrowed my niece's SUV to drive to the workshop from my brother's house ninety minutes away. I begin MOGO workshops by exploring assumptions and judgments. I ask participants their impressions and assumptions about me carrying different bags: a Tiffany & Co. bag, a Victoria's Secret bag, and a WalMart bag. The judgments fly. I'm alternately told I'm rich and vain, sexy and slutty, and poor and (believe it or not) evil -- and lots in between. This particular workshop, I had the opportunity to ask the audience what they thought of me when I told them that I drove an SUV there. I asked them to be honest. Some were clearly disturbed. What sort of hypocrite was leading a MOGO workshop and driving an SUV? Others, wanting to like me (after all, they'd just paid money to learn from me!), tried to give me the benefit of the doubt. Maybe because my drive from Maine was so long, and because there was so much to bring to the workshop, I needed the big gas guzzler, one participant offered kindly. MOGO wasn't about being perfect one lovely young woman reassured me and the audience.

There was clearly a sense of relief when I revealed that my car had broken down and I'd borrowed the SUV. One high school girl exclaimed, "I knew it!"

Funny about our judgments.

And so I asked the group to park their judgments and assumptions at the door, and to assume just one thing: that everyone in the room had something to teach them and that they had something to teach everyone in the room. I'm confident this proved true.


I particularly like this entry because I know I've frequently been guilty of making assumptions based on superficial observations. No compost bin under the sink? And you call yourself an environmentalist? Yes, but maybe an environmentalist that lives in a high rise in an urban area with no backyard. Or maybe the vegetable peelings go to the hens in the chicken coop in the back yard. Don't jump to conclusions.

What are some of your preconceived notions? Tell us about them in the comments below.

The Power and Promise of Humane Education     Above All Be Kind

So You Love Animals


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