Posted on 20 May 2010

We’ve all heard the expression “you can’t judge a book by its cover.”  And, I think that most of us would consider that axiom generally to be true.  Appearances can be and often are deceiving, like the wolf in sheep’s clothing in Aesop’s fable.  Yet, every day each one of us makes judgments based largely upon appearances.

Of course, observable countenance, mannerisms, and other forms of body language may provide a wealth of information to both the trained and untrained eye.  Law enforcement officials can often make judgments regarding individual motives and veracity of witnesses through visual observations of appearance and behavior.  And, one would surely be foolhardy to approach and attempt to befriend an animal that is visibly foaming at the mouth or otherwise exhibiting behavior indicative of serious disease or malevolent intent.

Putting aside circumstances in which the personal safety of yourself or others is at risk, we, nonetheless, base far too many of our decisions on appearances, whether or not we wish to admit it.  One can only surmise how many purchase, hiring, marriage, and other life decisions have been predicated predominantly on appearances and how many parties to those decisions have ultimately lived to regret the initial judgments so derived.

Appearances, however, are important.  They provide the observer with a good deal of information, both subjective and objective in nature, about people, places, and things, including observations and concomitant judgments regarding aesthetic quality, condition, craftsmanship, and desirability.  For places and things, these observations may be determinative.  With regard to people, appearances rarely provide the detail required for more than a cursory analysis.

Human beings are highly complex creatures.  Like onions, they have many layers.  Unlike onions, their layers are representative of traits, experiences, behaviors, and characteristics.  They are not physical in nature, but rather emotional, intellectual, and spiritual.  To gaze upon a person may reveal some data regarding ancestry, occupation, attitude, and socioeconomic status.  Observation alone, however, does not enable an accurate grasp of an individual’s philosophy, intelligence, honesty, integrity, generosity, and depth of character.  To gain such knowledge, one must not merely view but walk with that person.

In a world typified by snap decisions, we rarely devote the time necessary to gain true knowledge before passing judgment on people.  That fact, a truism in virtually every area of life, is both unfortunate and regrettable, for our failures in gaining knowledge of those around us foster a distorted image of reality.  And, that distortion further colors our judgments of the observable.

If appearances were determinative, who could have ever guessed the talent and beauty hidden within the less than comely exterior of Susan Boyle of 2009 Britains Got Talent? 


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4 Responses to “Appearances”

  1. Jack S. Fogbound says:

    Great srticle on making initial judgement the video tells it all. I guess Susan Boyle’s equivalent would mirror America’s Kate Smith. Exvellent read

  2. Darryl Galella says:

    Great post, thank you! Miss Boyle is so cute with that sassy little smile. And certainly her voice of course is marvelous.

  3. speelpeta says:

    Nice Blog with Excellent information

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