Updated: Jun 7
Last year a dear and caring friend of mine commented she and her teenage daughter were experiencing new and overt disapproval from members of their local Californian community. I wish I'd paid more attention at the time to her words because now I realize this is a big problem. My new awareness of the Covid 19 Hate Crimes Bill has opened my eyes.
It seems there are some people who are struggling to live alongside those who have always been their neighbors or community members. Blaming, shaming, ostracizing, at its worst hate crimes. Apparently because Wuhan and Covid 19 have become synonymous in the minds of some of us. People on both sides of this experience are hurting. I wonder, is legislation the answer?
I'm fortunate to have wonderful friends who are qualified to understand this situation. While I live in the UK Dr Myke and Mike live in the US and they have deep understanding of human behavior. In conversation together they've helped me to understand some challenges and opportunities of these current conversations.
My biggest question is, why do we need to legislate behavior which to my mind is a matter of common decency. The answer may be found in the deterioration of society, where trashing someone else is OK - it's not OK by me. Where accountability is absent and anonymity is provided by social platforms with global reach. Add to this the differences which show up as provincialism. It's understandable that one group has a shared viewpoint which differs from that of the next group. Yet how do we manage bringing those varied viewpoints together without creating tribal conflict?
Maybe Dr Myke is right in saying Congress is initiating a conversation for change which the people will implement one by one. There's no doubt the Civil Rights Act (1964) has contributed to the normal thinking of later generations. Yet I feel there's so much more to be done on the matter of discrimination, though I digress.
If the actions of we as individuals is the source of our solution to Covid 19 Hate Crimes, what is it we can do, what is it I can do?
It's a two pronged approach of addressing our own behavior and of being willing to help someone else address their behavior.
Beginning with taking control of my own behavior. This takes some self reflection and isn't always an easy thing to do. We tend to act out of passion. To then step back and observe our own behavior can be challenging. Because it takes dispassionate observation of our own passion! Do you see the conflict this presents us?
There is a trick to dispassionate observation which I discovered some years back. It's to replay in my mind the event as if I am looking at it in a movie. In this quasi removed state I am able to 'see' more clearly the situation and how I acted. It has taken practice and continues to serve me well in many situations including allowing me to step back from the behaviors of others - that's handy!
Helping others to observe and understand their behaviors is a different matter, I'm working at getting better at this. Dr Myke says, it's important to seek permission first, for example by asking someone close to you, 'can I speak with you about what I just observed?' If the answer is no then respect that. If the answer is yes then you have the opportunity to help, and by setting aside your own judgements, you stand a chance of making a difference. Food for thought....
Dr Myke, Mike and I had such a rich conversation together, there's much more I feel you'd find valuable. So I've produced a podcast for you. https://www.astera.global/podcast
And now I will send a belated message of support to my friend and her daughter, both of whom are contributors in their society. Wouldn't it be a shame if the behaviors of others caused these women to withdraw their contributions?