Recently I went on a church retreat called Chrysalis. There were many different kinds of people at the retreat: basketball players, football players, baseball players, kids from one parent families, from two parent families, and from divorced families, old people, young people, Baptists, Methodists, rich people, and poor people. This was the most diverse group of people that I've ever seen.
We all have pre-conceived notions about people who are different than us. People from different socio-economic backgrounds could be considerably poorer than us, or considerably richer than me. People who are richer than us usually strike us as being snooty, higher class, and "flashy". They seem to operate in different social circles, do different activities, and live a different life style than we do. We don't expect them to attend public schools, attend state universities and act "down to earth." My experience at Chrysalis and a growing realization on my part has recently shown me that "rich folks" don't have to be so different than us.
At Chrysalis, I met Bryan. He didn't strike me as being from a different socio-economic background, but as I got to know him, I realized that he was. Bryan is 19, has a girl friend and attends the University of Louisville, he comes from a divorced family and has younger step-brothers. Bryan seemed like any other 19-year-old. But there is something about Bryan that you wouldn't notice just to look at him and surprised me. Bryan owns his own business. He owns an Internet provider in southwestern Kentucky that has over 1600 customers. While his business is not that big right now Bryan plans to expand his business and has plans to supply Internet service for most of Western Kentucky in the next year. Bryan's business has brought in over $75,000. Not only did Bryan dispel many of our pre-conceived notions about rich people, but he also dispelled many notions we hold about "computer guys." He doesn't have a pocket protector or wear big thick glasses with tape around the middle. He doesn't drive a big flashy car or act differently than most other 19-year-old guys.
Then there's the growing realization that some friends of mine could have a vastly different socio-economic background than I do, but they choose (or their parent's have chosen) not to. My friend lives in a very nice home and his dad trades for a new Suburban about every 3 years, his mom trades for a new Honda mini-van on about the same schedule. They attend public school, play football, are active in Boy Scouts and active in their church-pretty much normal people, just like me. But, both of his parent's are doctors with individual incomes that could easily exceed what both my parent's make in a year.
Both of these examples have taught me not to stereotype people. I have learned that some of my pre-conceived notions are not accurate and mostly come from the images we see on television and movies.