Monday, July 15, 2013

Mustache The Right Question

"What are you?" asked a passenger.

"You must ask the right question for the answer you seek"  Johnie replied.

"What nationality are you?" The passenger rephrased his question.

"I have no boundaries, no borders; I am but one resident of earth; connected to all living beings on this planet; for I exist as they do. I am connected with you and the evidence is that you sit here with me here; we have been united for some reason however random it may appear." Johnie answered the question.

Johnie drives a hybrid Taxi cab in Bellingham, Washington.  He is a patient, kind, gentle, friendly man who puts up with a ton of craziness on a daily basis but still has an amazingly positive outlook on life.

Johnie continues when the man appears confused.  He tells the man that he is Hawaiian and when the passenger doesn't seem satisfied with that answer, he tells him that he is also Scotch Irish on his mother’s side. Still the man was not happy with the answers he was receiving.

Unfortunately, many people have this or a similar reaction to Johnie. He has brown skin; some people say he looks middle eastern, some believe that he is Mexican or Asian. I don’t think it should matter what color his skin is or where he came from because those things don’t define who he is.
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"You ask me a question to set your own curiosity at ease. I answer your question honestly and tell you I am Hawaiian and you get upset. I tell you I am Scotch Irish on my mother's side and still you are not satisfied. Why must people classify me? Why not see me as what I am, just a peaceful, caring and kind human being." Johnie asks the passenger to which he receives no response.

Why must we label each other? Why put others into categories and form opinions without taking the time to learn who that person is on the inside? Why not be observant, ask meaningful questions, and have a decent chance to gauge who that person really is, based on your interactions?  Can’t we all just open our eyes and see the person in front of us for who they really are?

Before you stamp someone with your label and judge them by it, think about how you have been judged unfairly and inaccurately. As the old saying goes, don't judge a book by its cover. When will we learn that what goes around comes around? Can’t we just embrace individuality and live peacefully and blissfully side by side?

If everyone could be measured based on a set criteria then sorted into say 6 or 10 different classifications, then everyone would be the same 6 or 10 people. The world would be nothing but a whole bunch of sheep following each other around.
I don't know about you but I refuse to conform to guidelines, criteria or categories. I am me and there is no one else like me!** Johnie is a very unique person as well, he is like no other that I have come across and it is unfair that he is often judged or worse because of his skin color. Smart people know better than to try to catalog a human being based on surface assumptions…

**(Many people choose to live their lives as sheep because it's easier to do what everyone else is doing and think what you are told to think, than it is to make your own decisions and think your own thoughts. More on the sheep subject in a later post.)

 I would have hoped that we as humans would have learned from our past but we have not and therefore it will repeat itself. How many times in history has a certain "kind" of people been mistreated or killed off? Chaos and destruction of valuable human life simply because the victims were different and fell into an unfavorable minority. People fear what they do not understand and if they don't take the time to understand "different" people then that fear breeds hate and that hate turns to violence, (violence doesn't always occur when hate is present but most of the time it does).

Think of the many instances of genocide; the Armenians massacred by the Ottoman government (during the First World War), the Holocaust when Jews were rounded up and massacred by the Nazis, during the Second World War and more recently the Rwandan Genocide (during the Rwandan Civil War). There are more but you get my point. All of these examples of acts designed to dehumanize a particular ethnic, racial or religious group. I could go on for days about the injustices that the world has seen all because of human classification.

Obviously one passenger attempting to classify and label Johnie is minuscule in comparison with Genocide but it all starts small. Starts with placing labels on people and passing judgment.

We each have the power to make a small difference by existing peacefully. When you come across someone you do not know and maybe do not understand, look for the things you may have in common instead of looking for the differences. Learn to understand them by finding common ground. Don’t assume the worst but give them the benefit of the doubt.

So which is it? Don't judge a book by its cover? Or, your first impression is solely based on the presentation and appearance? I already have my answer, and it's actually quite easy to know others opinion within a matter of seconds.

Special thanks to Johnie Pai for this story and for being awesome!!
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