FOUR THINGS TO ASK A STRANGER (almost a parody)

Welcome to Mary Anne Radmacher's blog.

One way to get to know a person you've just met is to ask them to tell you about their favorite friends. It's said that a person essentially becomes an aggregate of the five people with whom they spend the most time.

There's another telling question to ask a stranger. It's all about a book.

1) Is there one book that you have re-read and will read again (and again)?
2) What is the most recent book that you've read and what stands out to you most?
3) What is the title of a book you recommend most often to friends?
4) What was the last book you read that made you so sad when it came to the end? (Because you wanted to keep on reading, not because the ending was sad!).

If the person you are just getting to know has never re-read a book, can't remember what stood out from the last book they read, doesn't recommend books to friends and has never felt sad to stop reading an excellent book...

I suggest that you stop conversing with them. And, perhaps, run. Kidding (not kidding). Perhaps you might consider striking up a conversation with someone else that you might want to get to know. AND start THAT conversation off by recommending a book you've recently read...

Friday, October 29, 2010

change: here, now, beginning with YOU

A friend inquired after the sustainability of my shaved head and effort against bullying. “It’s a really long time – are you getting tired of it?”

Well, of course. And that was the whole point of choosing such an extended experience. Kids who are bullied in every corridor every day are tired of it too, but that doesn’t mean it stops. Adults who are bullied in their work place feel as if it just goes on and on…and that’s the point. It DOES.
IT HAS TO STOP.

In conversation with Gina, who is a human rights activist, I made a case that global tolerance for bullying begins in childhood
(it’s just part of childhood,” “It toughens kids up for the REAL world.”) and is the basis for tolerance for atrocities in adulthood.
It’s tribal. Everywhere. It’s tribal everywhere. That reflects the inclination to “look out for my own kind.” If the victims were people “just like me,” individuals would immediately stand up for the one being bullied. It’d be more natural to be fired up about that.
NEWS FLASH.
“They” are us.

Kids are not a different species. They are not miniature humans, they are humans. They are people. Homosexual individuals are not a different species. Women are not a different species. People who wear glasses, dress differently, people with tattoos, people who shave their head (list here the dozens of things that you allow as identifers as “different from me”) are HUMAN. That’s why my activist friend works in a field called HUMAN RIGHTS. And the curriculum for HUMAN RIGHTS begins before we go to kindergarten. It starts with how we watch our family treat the neighbors, the stranger in the grocery store, the players on television and in movies.

Opponents to these views can cite the tendency in nature for animals to be drawn to “their own kind.” When you cite that as the basis for discrimination, want to start walking on all fours, defecating in the bushes and eating carrion cuisine, THEN you can talk to me about animal behavior being the justification for poor Human behavior. In the meantime – let’s manner up.

THEM is US, dear souls, and the smaller the globalization of our planet gets, the more important this fundamental civility becomes. Standing shoulder to shoulder there are human beings who are different…but there are not different human beings. We’re all humans engaged in the process of being.

Getting bullied and having the process dismissed is unacceptable. Making hateful, damaging statements and then simply apologizing with, “I misspoke” essentially means, “I should have framed my bigotry in a more acceptable manner.” Hate and prejudice and bigotry run deep in the veins of culture and they dress up so well: nice suits, pretty jewelry, polished pews. But regardless of how you suit it up: it’s still hateful and insidious and it’s time for a global, “NOT okay. Choose another way.”

Today. Everything begins with YOU, the human who is reading these words. What can you do for the sake of global human rights, beginning in your own experience? What can you do is someone tells you they feel like ending it all? Or, if YOU do?

If you wonder, “What can I do?” which is the very place where the change begins…
…here are places for your answers to begin:
http://stopbullyingnow.hrsa.gov/adults
http://www.thetrevorproject.org
http://www.itgetsbetterproject.com
http://makeitbetterproject.org
http://operationrespect.org

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