Special Guest Post by Mindful Millie
Like many families in the current environment, we are trying to support local businesses by choosing a takeaway meal from a different restaurant each week.
Last Friday night the choice was Chinese &, apart from our hankering for a good beef in black bean we thought nothing of it. While waiting we innocently enquired how business had been and were a little surprised at the response “well… the Chinese community has been supporting us”
“errr…we’ve had some people calling us saying we cook bats and we should shut”
I was lost for words
“people call to abuse you?”
This restaurant had been in town for at least 35 years, I recall going there in my PJ’s as a 6 year old (thanks mum). As a first-generation Aussie heralding from “ten pound pom” parents, the owners would be more Australian than me.
I relayed the story to a close family member expecting the appropriate gasp and head shaking at the right moments. The response I got was, “well- I can kind of understand that, I’m really angry and I won’t buy Chinese products going forward”
What universe have I been teleported to!?
I initially felt shocked, are we so consumed by anger we can find comfort in blaming an entire race?
But, as I wrote confusion crept in, did my lack of anger make me soft? Too forgiving? Not political enough? In my eagerness to smugly judge and label as if I was sooooo much more enlightened, was I not just a hypocrite?
I recall watching the news not long after 4 children were killed when a drunk driver hit them as they rode their bikes to buy ice-cream. The mother’s response at the time had shocked me, she was not angry or looking for vengeance. I remember thinking I could never muster up the same level of forgiveness, I would not hesitate to blame.
So I thought I was writing about blame today, cleverly leading to my well-crafted punch line about blame satisfying an emotional need but not changing anything. But as I continue to reflect, I wonder if we should be talking about judgement?
My judgement of those dealing with loss and uncertainty (albeit in ways I don’t understand)
Others judgement of an Australian with Chinese heritage trying to stay afloat
Our collective judgement of an entire race
So what can we do when judgement creeps in?
Do we join the emotional swell and get angry because it makes us feel better on some level?
Or can we step back, recognise the judgement, and the opportunity to respond with what’s within our control? The words of a poem comes to mind:
Do not judge
what you do not understand.
It is one thing to quickly judge
a person or thing,
but it is entirely worse not to resend said judgement
when it becomes due.
We can control our emotions
We can control our responses
We can control our words
Like the mother dealing with grief and loss on TV, maybe we can respond in ways that make others pause and reflect before choosing angry words or actions that momentarily satisfy.