We are not all alike … do you think you know me?

So you think you know me? My picture is visible on Facebook and on Twitter and you have made a first impression. You may know my religion and where I am born. You are quite sure of my story, how I got here and what makes me tick.

You think this is about me?

I read a story this weekend in the Globe & Mail on the “Refugee Crisis” – an enlightening analysis comparing the characteristics of refugees in Europe to those who have arrived in Canada. Mark MacKinnon writes:

“Statistics compiled by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees show 57 percent of the just over one million people who have arrived … were adult males, versus 17 percent women and 27 percent children … Europe is chaotically receiving the youthful cream of the crop. Canada … is receiving Syria’s poorest and the most vulnerable … often with female heads of households, the men often having died in the war”.

I encourage you to read the article in its entirety. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/what-distinguishes-the-syrians-arriving-in-europe-from-those-incanada/article28614428/

I have to question all those dire prognostications of the European refugee experience happening here in Canada, in particular a repeat of the rampant and nauseating sexual assaults in Cologne Germany on New Years Eve, or the fear of refugee terrorists being settled here in Canada. For the most part the new entrants to Canada have little in common with their European counterparts. So let’s stop making disingenuous comparisons! It reflects poorly on the positive impression we have of ourselves and we are only fooling ourselves as to the type of people we think we are by holding such malicious and deceptive viewpoints.

Ever catch yourself using verbiage such as “those people”, “that religion”, “that race” or “those refugees” with one ever all-encompassing brush that fails to distinguish one individual from another? Why do we do this?

I am an Asian woman from South Africa.

I am a white Jewish male of European ancestry.

I am a gay male from Ecuador.

I am a black female immigrant living in England.

I am a Muslim female working in Guelph Ontario.

Who am I? Care to judge me? How do you know me? Perhaps I shall judge you for the “group” to which you belong and surely there are some bad apples found within your uniquely pristine demographic.

“No one is born with greed, prejudice, bigotry, patriotism and hatred; these are all learned behaviour patters”. Jacque Fresco

As the world continues to shrink and whether we label society as multicultural, multiracial, or even that old idiom of a cultural mosaic, we are living in an increasingly non-monolithic societal environment. More and more people will not look like us, speak like us, eat like us, think like us or pray like us – if they pray at all – so as I often write, the choice is yours. Figure out why hate and or intolerance is a part of your life. And figure it out quickly since there is nowhere to hide to get away from these rapid transformations of what was. But I have fostered a solution in my own life.

Seeking self-awareness is the genesis of our evolution towards the individual we are meant to become. Over the course of our lifetime we have all constructed barriers and obstacles stymieing our human potential. Until we are ready to acknowledge our current limitations based on the negative lessons we have learned and acquired, we will continue raising these walls higher and higher.

Daniel Chidiac said it best:

“Being self-aware is not the absence of mistakes, but the ability to learn and correct them.”

 

One thought on “We are not all alike … do you think you know me?

  1. “No one is born with greed, prejudice, bigotry, patriotism and hatred; these are all learned behaviour patters”. Jacque Fresco

    Actually, current scientific understanding in the areas of evolutionary biology and psychology holds that the behaviours referenced here — among them greed, patriotism, hatred and even prejudice — are not learned but indeed are genetic; it is behaviours like generosity, selflessness, and open-mindedness that need to be learned. In short, people are the same but societies are different. By nature we tend to establish relationships based on racial and social affinities; it is why we tend to form tribes: our most primal instinct is to shun “otherness.” Animals of the same breed tend to be wary and unwelcoming of outsiders. Creating borders and boundaries is an essential human survival trait. Human infants, for instance, are remarkably selfish and greedy: children will instinctively fight over scarce resources and have no instinct whatsoever for the “other-oriented” behaviours that we typically associate with the well-adjusted adult. What you seem to be avoiding is the simple fact that refugees are fleeing countries with low levels of tolerance and seeking shelter in countries with high levels of tolerance; the cultural realties, assumptions, and infrastructures that make those countries so accomodtingly tolerant, however, are not infinitely flexible. Without naming anyone you employ the collective “we” as a kind of blanket indictiment and seem to suggest that Canada is rife with self-absorbed finger-pointing haters who live sheltered lives of unreflective privilege (“your uniquely pristine demographic”). What this sounds like is intolerance in pursuit of tolerance.

Leave a Reply to Jonathan Schmidt Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *