We all want the world to be a better place right? We want to be the person that makes someone say, “my faith in humanity is restored!” Well then… stop discriminating.
A 13-year-old girl with bags under her eyes approached me and my friend Nick while sitting at a bus station.
“Excuse me,” she said while staring straight past us. “I need some money to buy a ticket to go to Ipswich. I just ran away from home and…”
This girl looked like she was in a bad place. Standing next to her was this 18-year-old boy looming around in a way that seemed like he was an abusive boyfriend. He didn’t say a word, and she did all the talking.
At the end of her spiel, I quickly said, “No.” And was ready to leave.
Nick, on the other hand, had another idea. He looked at me to say that he was going to buy the ticket.
My heart was swirling with confusion inside. It was so clear these people were up to no good. Why bother?
Nick went off to buy the ticket while I waited. When he came back, she looked so confused that someone actually helped. She said her thanks and the boy with her grunted his gratitude.
“Nick, why in the hell would you do such a thing?”
Sometimes you just have to give people the benefit of the doubt. It doesn’t matter the cost, people need to know someone cares about them.
Even when it doesn’t benefit you in the slightest.
Loving people isn’t a walk in the park.
Let me repeat that, loving people is not a walk in the park. If there’s anything we know about love in any of it’s four forms is that it’s crazy. It does the unexpected.
Here’s the problem, sometimes we feel good about ourselves and that we’ve loved all the people we could, but that’s because our criteria isn’t big enough. The main problem is many times, we don’t treat people like they’re people! Since we don’t think they’re people, we feel justified in ignoring them all together.
You’ve probably never thought like that because you’re not a horrible person. I didn’t either, but then my friends woke me up to the truth. This is so counter-culture it’s hard to digest.
We all discriminate on a daily basis. But since I’m not you, I can’t tell you who that might be. I can only tell you my side of the story.
Don’t judge me, as I’m doing my best. Being vulnerable isn’t easy.
Here are seven types of people I always discriminated against…
Don’t Talk to Beggars
Growing up, I was taught to stay away from beggars and homeless people.
They’re lazy after all, nothing to it. Not to mention there was probably a mafia behind it all. What if he takes your hard earned money and buys some pot? Hell no! This was our train of thought.
It’s not like we treated them like the plague, we just knew we had to be careful. Con-artists are real after all.
But, if we were approached, we gave the benefit of the doubt. Being Asian, giving money wasn’t something we did. We always bought and gave them food if they asked because that’s what is most important.
Of course, security and safety are always crucial, but don’t let fear get in the way of love.
We Don’t Hate the Poor
This point of view is not farfetched.
In Indonesia where my family is from, stuff like this is a normality, which to us in the west may be unthinkable.
Women on the side of the street beg with babies. And not just any baby, it’s often a rented one! R-E-N-T-E-D.
I remember asking why they never seem to cry or are always sleeping. Turns out, they’re sedated with drugs. Who wants to support that?
It’s worth mentioning that in most of Asia, the government does not have a large amount of social programs to help the marginalized. In general, to escape poverty, all you need is an education which will almost always grant you a job.
This is why Asians immigrants out West feel that if you’re poor, you earned it. Karma. No ands, ifs, or buts.
Let’s not put all the focus on this category of people. There are others that may not be the marginalized of society, but we subconsciously treat them as such.
We need to realize that each person has intrinsic worth, even if it can be pretty difficult to remember at times.
I remember walking through the halls of my high school after classes ended.
The amount of garbage left by us students is always astounding. Absolutely NO mercy. Not even the decency to toss it in the trash sometimes.
I’d mutter to myself, “At least I’m better than these littering kids.” Or so I thought…
The reality is every day that I saw janitors roaming the halls, I wouldn’t say hello or even acknowledge them. Sure the New Yorker in both parties say mind your own business– but that’s not why.
In my Asian head I’m thinking, wow. A janitor? Must suck. But then again, he probably deserves it. If you can’t get a better job it’s because you didn’t do enough schooling.
Talk about HORRIBLE. If you’re a Westerner, you may be thinking, wow, you must have been an absolutely horrible person.
Truth is when you believe the world runs on a karmic cycle and reincarnation, whatever you have is what you earned. There is no redemption in that. Blame Confucius.
This is also why Asians don’t say thank you to people and come off as rude because it’s not required by our culture.
If someone is doing their job, it’s their cosmic duty to do so. Period.
But every work is sacred. Every job has its place. And just because a job may be “menial” doesn’t mean the person is.
In New York, this is probably the LAST person you want to talk to; The buses are NEVER on time and the bus drivers are mad rude.
Not to mention, each time someone DOES talk to someone working in transport, they’re always a crazy lonely guy. But you’re not one of those, so stay away…
This doesn’t mention the fact that talking on public transport in general is pretty frowned upon between strangers in NYC. The bus is a place where everyone is tired and trying to get home from work, not somewhere to be buddy-buddies.
I definitely still take these guys for granted. Sure, I HATE being late. But since when was traffic under the control of anyone? If it was, the whole world would be a much better place by now.
After realizing bus drivers are people too, I try to leave my buses with a good-bye and thanks. It doesn’t hurt as much as I used to think.
Any form of security personnel I used to avoid like the plague. You just don’t mess with them because you don’t know what they’ll do to you.
Policemen, TSA agents, security guards, they all creeped me out. I felt like when I looked at them, they were staring into my soul and also made me feel like my breathing was already a wrong step.
Naturally being a goody-two-shoes as a kid, you can imagine why this bothered me. I didn’t like the fact that someone in authority could call me out on something.
Particularly in high school, they were always making up their own rules and bending them for the kids actually causing the mischief. Because they were well acquainted with them and detention meant you got to know these people personally.
All of these guys have a tough job especially with the rise of exposure to brutality and terrorism. I can’t imagine the pressure they have now to get things right.
These guys help keep our streets safe and even though we don’t like them, they really do help keep society in check, even if they need to be held accountable.
After seeing multiple friends become police officers over the years, it’s made soften up to the fact that security personnel are people too.
The people who collect rent from you or tell you to stop the kids from stomping on the floor.
Even if they may not be the nicest person out there, try taking the time to make friendly conversation. No need to be something extremely deep.
Show them that you’re a human being. I know you are because you’re reading this blog!
My current landlord is a German guy in his 60’s who lives in the past century. He literally wrote my contract with a typewriter.
I didn’t know those still existed…
There’s nothing an Indonesian American and an old German guy have in common, but still, I managed to listen as he showed me photos of his days when he used to do motorcycle races and compete.
Gotta stop scratching the surface.
All the loud reggaeton music till 2 in the morning, the vacuuming in the evening, constant smoking, I’ve been there.
These are more often than not the people you want to avoid at all costs. And with good reason… They just wanna live their lives the way they want, even if it’s at the cost of YOUR comfort.
When I moved to Germany it was to an attic apartment. It was refurbished, but there was no internet. Instead of doing a whole hassle and getting a new company, I decided I should probably share with the neighbors.
If you know me, I LOVE to talk to people. But as I stood in front of that door, my heart was beating and I stood frozen. I didn’t grow up talking to my neighbors since I was really young. After pacing for a few minutes I rang the doorbell.
They said thanks but no thanks.
Crap. I was rejected. Now what do I do?
I came back in the evening to find that they decided they would share and we’ve been happy neighbors ever since. When you take the time to smile and say hello to anyone, it really is a game changer.
I don’t see my neighbors too often so I make an effort to just leave things by their door every once in a while. This can be a whole box of German baked goodies and snacks for their kids. If I do see them, I take the time to smile and give their kids a high five or two.
A high-five never hurt no one.
Waiters and Baristas
Last of all, let’s think of these important people that we see everyday.
Rare is a day that we don’t walk into a store, restaurant, or café. We get our orders and sit down.
This goes from a five-star restaurant to the McDonald’s employee. In the states ask people, “You don’t want to end up at McDonald’s do you? We definitely believe they’re no better than us because they work at a fast food restaurant. That’s no way to love.
With that mentality we throw a fit if they spell our name incorrectly or get our order wrong.
They’re human beings just like you! A job is a job, and it’s tiring. They could care less about how to spell your name because you could care less about them.
The easiest way to reverse that is switch roles.
Ask them what their name is. And use it to make them smile.
It works every time.
This is How You Love the World
You know, way back in the day before cellphones, everyone knew each other! And it looked kind of like this:
Who doesn’t Belle know? She spoke to everyone whether or not they were listening to her or liked her. Spoiler: most people didn’t like her.
The point is, if we live life sticking to ourselves, that’s all we’ll know.
If that’s all we know, the world has become very small suddenly hasn’t it? There are 7.2 Billion people to meet. Why not get started now?
We are discriminating daily. But we can definitely put that to a halt.
Who are some people in your neighborhood that you can stop avoiding and learn to love better? Let me know in the comments below!