Have you ever been a victim of Hasty Generalization? Let me explain what I’m talking about with an illustration. (Disclaimer: All characters appearing in this illustration are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead is purely coincidental…)
John and Thomas had been friends for some time, and they were seriously thinking of partnering together in a Mission project. Joshua, a senior person known to both of them, one day calls up John over the phone. “Hey John, how are you doing man?…” John replies, “I’m fine, thanks dude. How about you? It’s been some time…so, what’s the matter?” Joshua says, “Recently someone one told me that you and Thomas are planning to work together on a mission project…Dude the idea is a good one…but I got to tell you this…Thomas is a X (referring to a particular ethno-linguistic group)…so you need to be careful. You can’t trust a X. I have worked with them…they are known to use people and then dump them. So be careful about partnering with Thomas who is a X.” With that warning Joshua hung up the phone. John couldn’t believe the irony that such words had come from Joshua who is a Bible teacher and preacher of the Gospel! Thomas had been made a victim!
Now…let’s talk about the issue. Joshua in the past might have had some bitter experiences with one or two people (or more) of the community to which Thomas belongs to. But to Judge everyone from the community on the basis of his past experience is hasty generalization. Haven’t you heard people say? “All Americans are greedy” “All Australians are racists” “All Mallus /Tamils /Telugus/ Madarasis/ North-easterns are like this and like that….” “You can’t trust short statured guys/girls” “Quiet people are dangerous.” “All post-modern ladies are feminists” “Slum dwellers are cheats” “All mainline church pastors are liberals” “All Govt. officials are crooks.” When we judge an entire race, nationality, community or group based on the actions of just a few of them, it is nothing but hasty generalization.
Some time back, a friend of mine in a lighter vein told us that “All boys with the name Kevin are mischievous.” This idea has its origin in the movie ‘Home Alone’. As parents of a son named Kevin, it was a notice to me and my wife!
In logic, hasty generalization is called a fallacy or a logical error. But the Bible calls it a Sin. The Scripture never tells us not to judge people but it warns us against making wrong or biased judgments (Matt.7:1-5, Jam.4:11-12). John 7:24 says, “Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly.” I Cor. 4:5 says, “Do not judge ahead of time…” To pass judgment on a person’s character merely on the basis of one’s caste, color, shape, stature, background, language, ethnicity, and creed, is an unacceptable behavior according to God’s word. May God deliver us from victimizing many through hasty generalization!
Thoughts by Sam K John