Today, I heard a(n old, White) man say to a group of people that he’d never met before, “He lost his mother at a young age and went to live in an orphanage,” (about a dead man they were supposed to look up to) “and you can imagine how difficult that must have been.”

It struck me how little imagination this (old, White) man must have had, to think that they would have to imagine. To think that none of them had ever gone through something similar. To think that everyone’s experience must mirror his own.


2 Comments on “Imagine.”

  1. Q. Pheevr says:

    Possibly I’m being too charitable in my reading of what the (old, white) man said, but when it comes to other people’s experiences, what else can we do but imagine? Even if I’ve been through the same experience, or a very similar one, I can only really *know* what it was like for me, but I can *imagine* what it was like for someone else. (And of course I can listen to what they have to say about it, and that will make it easier to imagine more accurately.)

    Now, if he was implying that the audience should look up to this person *because* he had lost his mother at a young age and gone to live in an orphanage, then that does seem rather presumptuous—as you say, maybe some of them had gone through something similar, and so why should they be impressed? But I don’t really see anything wrong with assuming that imagination must be exercised to understand another person’s experience of the world.

    • Copcher says:

      The audience wasn’t supposed look up to this guy just because he lost his mother, but the old man did sort of imply that he’d had a much more difficult life than anyone in the room had ever had. And then later, someone else flat out said to some people from the audience that this guy had started out living a life that was “actually a lot harder than any of our lives” (or something along those lines). Granted, the second speaker knew his audience a little better, but it still sounded pretty presumptuous to me.

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