The everyday rose-coloured glasses

 

What if we began teaching our children to see people through rose-coloured glasses? Because honestly, I am so riled by colour differences, even though I am on the ‘safe’ side.

You notice me when I enter the room, as I walk along the street, or while going to the kiosk to buy some bread; my white skin colour is shining bright. And I am not only white; but rich, powerful, and knowledgeable too. I don’t mind. Really I don’t. I have a higher status, simply by my skin colour. Easy, isn’t it? But what is happening on the other side? With the darker-coloured folk. Nowadays, it is even the colour used to describe terrorists in Europe. But previously, it was preserved for the poor. For generations, the poor and needy have been dark-skinned – on the streets, outside the churches and mosques, in newspapers, and on TV.

However, it is not only what you think about the others, but what others think about you. I met a friend as I was leaving a local supermarket, and she cynically wondered if none of the international brands were opened. With no chance to explain, she drove off. Suddenly, I didn’t feel so powerful and rich. Why? Because in an instant, she decided that I was poor and needy. And for a moment, I did feel poor and needy because of a perception imposed by someone else. Just like that, a picture of me is made, with no opportunity to clarify, or even inform her of my card limit. So you decide that I am poor because I am not your depiction of success.

Furthermore, our thoughts translate into action. Why the need to go to a developing country to dig a borehole for the poor? Why the need to spend half my salary building a school for people I have not even met? Having pity on an old, feeble person crossing the street… Does that sooth my conscience, knowing that I have made a contribution?

Seriously though, do we want to continue like this? I thought most of us are from this ‘globalized generation’ which crossed boundaries and saw the different realities, the realities which are so much broader!

Should we not begin to tell our kids the reality or do we let them be bamboozled by this power game brought about by skin colour?

No, no, no. We cannot. Still, it’s not that simple. Why would I let go the feeling that “I am better than you”, and risk exposing my insecurities by judging you based on your colour?

Imagine we are putting on the rose-coloured glasses. Or we can call them ‘glasses of indifferences’. If we all put on these glasses and see all human beings in the same way, we will not judge them because we assume their background, origin or state. We will not value them because of our pre-conceived ides. We are not putting ourselves higher or lower than them because we already know their capacity. We just see them as they are. We will consequently give everybody a chance to approach us, and talk to us. And we will allow ourselves to hear and understand. It is not about denying our backgrounds. On the contrary, it is about acknowledging the differences, accepting the similarities, and embracing the diversity. It is about listening, observing and discovering.

It has been said that we should look through our eyes and not with our eyes. That way we get to appreciate what we see.

What if we changed our children’s bedtime stories to teach them to see every person through rose-coloured glasses? What's more, if we want to change the narrative, we need to get rid of our misconstrued perceptions of people around us – and that only works if we are not spending hours taking selfies at every occasion, but if we talk and listen to people.

Listen.

Listen without judging. Merely listen to understand. It may be difficult at first, but possible. And yes, once we capture the story, the new and different story, the story from a real life, the story which is full of wonder and excitement – we can share it with our children. Most likely they will fall asleep due to the thrill of the narrative, but in the end, it will be truly worthwhile.

Do put on your rose-coloured glasses the next time you meet your new neighbour will you!

 

F**king Globalisation

 

There I was, working in my dream job on the other side of the world, and feeling far from everything. Even if my definition of home was already lost from many years of carrying my suitcase from place to place in search of wonderful, exciting life experiences (which included 3-month low-paying internships). This place was definitely much further. They did not even have butter in the shops and sold only one type of chocolate, which was already melted. How now!

"Let´s integrate!” they said,

as I put another packet of beans in my shopping bag. Hopefully, I could find somebody who’d show me how to cook them. And now, I was supposed to build my life here? For real! Like making friends and all that s**t all over again? I was looking forward to my three-month stay, where it would not even matter if I had friends or not because, anyways, I am gone almost all the time.

Here goes life construction again! But this time, I would not show people the ach-so-perfect-funny-side of me, because I would stay for longer (no time definition please). And if do stay for longer, then maybe better without a masque, right? This time it’s for real. New start. New luck.

Now how do I start this life-construction? Do I tell my friends abroad how great I am doing (well… there is sun and food, it’s not that much of a lie)? But hold on; I promised myself to use my phone less in order to start a real life. A real life in terms of interaction with people – deliberately making friends; an apartment with pictures and an aquarium, albeit a tiny one; engaging in hobbies that are fulfilling; and a challenging job with constant highlights and lowlights, where I can contribute my ideas without having to wear a mask. A real life that depicts authenticity and fulfilment.

Do I ask too much?

I think not.

Because it is not this romantic picture of an adventure at a new place. It is daily fighting, daily investing, daily explaining self, listening and understanding who the person next to you is, testing, approaching, failing and standing up and all that again. But most importantly, it is not only about how often I go out to this bar where I might be the only person with my skin colour,

or how often I hear, “Remind me where we met…” with the hope of my company at a coffee date,

or how often I explain to colleagues where I come from, while dealing with their doubts of whether I am a visitor, a friend, or a spy perhaps.

Being present is paramount. I need to embrace where I am at the moment, and the people around me who I don’t know yet, but the chance to get to know them. I need to embrace the courage to identify myself in this new place, and the curiosity to give myself meaning as well. And finally, I need to embrace the trust that I do it for something bigger, and for a real life.

I am not there, yet.

Globalisation this, globalisation that. Globalize here, globalize there. Blah, blah, blah. I realized that our Western concept of family is really outdated. Seriously! We are teaching our siblings and kids to move alone from place to place depending on where their jobs take them. At the same time we are holding on our perfect family setting of mum, dad and two kids. We are making them carry their experiences, lessons, values and cultures to the part of the world they are going, but we are not allowing them to bring that part of the world – the experiences, lessons, values and cultures – back home. Surely a foreign spouse is only for the courageous few. There is a lot that we can learn and ‘borrow’ from other communities.

And so when all is said and done, my tussle is whether globalisation is only for people with the right passport, a university degree and money.