Jul 01, 2015
Understanding someone requires conversation, not polls
What something is purported to mean to a large portion of a sample does not automatically mean the same thing to every individual within the sample, or to every representative of the sample that you meet.Seeing a woman in some form of Islamic dress doesn’t equate to the assumption that she sees herself as oppressed. Maybe she does. Maybe she doesn’t. Maybe the challenges she faces in daily life have very little to do with that, and everything to do with a job she works at, or her children (or lack of them), or her husband (or lack of one), or… You can’t know what people perceive to be their greatest challenges, their greatest needs–until you ask them. This requires that we stop looking at people and assuming we know what their life is like on the basis of polls, studies, hearsay, or someone who knew someone who heard from someone else - and instead, say “Hello.” Polls and studies are very useful for understanding trends which impact large groups and which may or may not impact individuals - but they can also be dangerous assumptions.