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Friday, April 20, 2018

The Change We Need

I suppressed a smile when I watched my date struggled to eat the Indian meal with a spoon. I found it incredibly endearing. And because I am an ass, it is exceptionally liberating, as I had my share of weird look when I struggled with fork and knife. 

World is a lot more diverse and way, way bigger than we can ever perceive. Even in Los Angeles where it is supposed to be a melting pot, you can still be surprised on what people do or think, of different cultures and tradition.

But changes do not come easy. Nor acceptance. As a species, change is bad because it can eradicate our way of living. In any change, there's always a question: "Can we adapt to it?" "Can we handle it?" "Should we just eliminate it?"

Having my feet firmly planted in two vastly different countries (Indonesia and USA), with friends from various race, religions, and social status allow me to see that resistance and fear for change can be found everywhere.

I saw the "no homo" in more rural place of US, and "yes homo" in places that are more diverse like Los Angeles. I saw the "Death to Infidels" in a more rural place of Indonesia, and glorified western culture in cities like Jakarta. Each side vehemently defends their life choices and attack those who disagree.

Is it wrong? Is it right? What if it is not about right or wrong? What if it's just about not getting used to things and fear of changes? What if, compassion and willingness to see from other people's perspective is the way to go?

But it's hard. Especially if you are surrounded by people who think like that. For the first few years, I lived in the USA, I was made to believe that black people are psychos, Hispanics can't be trusted, and burger flippers are bad. Free from that toxic influence, my life is so much better.

And if you put violence into the equation, it gets progressively harder. Why should we calm down and look at their perspective when they [read: people with opposing view] viciously attack us and disregard our perspective?

It then creates this endless cycle of "Well, they should go first", the refusal to back down or listen to what others have to say before the others back down and listen to us first. A giant messed-up catch-22, so to speak. Change is an impossibility.

Just like everything else, it can only start with ourselves. Each of us can learn to agree to disagree internally. Each of us can learn to see things objectively, and always ask: "How does the other person feel about this?"

Prejudice can only take us so far, we've established this. How we think and feel is not necessarily how others think and feel. In this divisive world, compassion and empathy is the answer: the cure and the shield from insanity, the agent of change.

I know it sounds so dreamy, so full of moral BS. There are bad guys out there, bad guys that will not be stopped by kind beautiful words. We need to stand up for ourselves, don't we? Yes. Yes, we do. But not with hatred and fear in our heart.

Given enough time and practice, my date will master the use of spoon and fork together. The next time he had to do it again, it won't feel as weird as the first time. This is what change is all about: the subtle transition into something new, the acceptance for what is previously unknown, the willingness to do what is unheard of.

It's an oversimplified analogy for such complex problems, but it is a start. We are more similar to one another than what we previously think, down to reaction and response to change regardless of where we stand. It's time that we unite.

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