Sunday, July 26, 2009

Should We Judge as Good or Bad or Just Accept What Is?

Several weeks ago I had chance to meet one of the smartest people in social science, Katherine Wilson - traveler, Salsa teacher and PhD student specialized in genocide. Her blog is awesome. Though she stayed with me only for several days, we talked a lot about politics, religion, life and genocide - the newest and strangest thing I ever heard so far.

Genocide is simply defined as deliberate and systematic destruction, in whole or in part, of an ethnic, racial, religious, or national group. Jews holocaust, Rwanda genocide, Darfur - Sudan tragedy, Yugoslavia ethnic war (Serb and Bosnia) and cultural destruction (Aborigine and Indian ethnic in Australia and USA) are all included in genocide subject.

All of them are darkest moment in our history. If you see holocaust movie - Schindler's List, The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas - you'll see how terrible human can be. Nazi killed Jews in killing fields with poison gas, burnt people and shot them like killing dogs or any animals' name you never value. And for me, killing people for difference; economically, politically, religion, is the worst thing that ever happened in our history.




The conversation with Kat opened a whole new concept how people, at least for myself, should live in differences. It's like confirmation about what I have been believing about the perfect life should be.

While I believe the physical destruction is the worst, disgusting things human can do; the second worst is unacceptance leading to harassment, of cultural, gender, sexual orientation, and personality differences in our life.

I am grateful my Chinese family was raised in village amongst non-Chinese people - so when they bullied my Chinese face, I understood the way they thought before they said bad words to me.

Our education system sometimes make it worst, taught us not to be open, stuck in theory rather than expanding the way of thinking; in a way that people seeing similarity as bestest thing happens in life rather than wisely accepting difference.

I am grateful to have been moved to Jakarta at 10 years old and being nerd student in school, so I knew how to live, one more time in life, in minority and accepted differences. I am grateful to be in school and university where cultures blend in a perfect way - so I can see the beauty of being different.

So, difference is the destiny of life. We cannot change that. Sad thing is bigots move against world movement.

We all are imperfect in managing difference. Our humanness tends to reject difference because it creates discomfort in us. But that's okay, at least we try. I try to. Some are good stories, some failed to ge good ones.

I believe the best way to handle differences are by seeing things neutral, neither good ones nor bad ones. Good-bad system tends to judge things and categorizes things in group of bad one and good one. And we tend to look down at the bad ones. By seeing things neutral, we accept difference as normal things and handle it as something that improves our system of life. That's the perfect idea of living life in differences, for me.

So, being different isn't necessarily a bad thing ever happened in our life. We're all different in specific way. It IS us who choose our life path. Be proud of it - you have colorful paintings rather than only black & white ones.

The simple yet powerful story about being different is told perfectly in 'The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas', an award winning movie with Holocaust tragedy as the setting.


There are two boys in that movie; first is son of Nazi commander who didn't really have idea what his father was doing as soldier. What he knew his father is a soldier who surrendered himself to country, which was led by Nazi.

The second boy is the son of Jews, who has been in the killing field waiting to be executed. He's been tortured for years in killing field - everyday he ran to the corner of killing field, which accidentally made him meet the first boy.

They have different perspective about soldier.

For the first boy, who didn't have idea what soldiers' job is - what he knew they surrendered life for holly duty to their country - sees soldiers as one making world the better place to live. In that era, Nazi brainwashed students that their holly war was to erase Jews from civilization. They believed Jews are evil who made world worse.

For the second boy, who has been living like animals for years, what he knew was soldiers are evils who punished with gun for mistake, killed people for nothing and celebrated for the pain Jews felt.

From the insufficient information they both have, they tend to have unoptimal conclusion of one similar thing. It's like describing elephant for deaf and blind man.

You see what I'm saying? Try to look things from opposite point of view and you'll see the beauty of differences. Go easy with differences, and you'll not be tired of living everywhere and for sure it will expand your personal impact.


"Sometimes it's a form of love to talk to somebody that you've nothing in
common with and still be fascinated by their presence." -David Byrne


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