Thursday, 23 June 2011

Stand in the Place Where You Work

What we did at work today (Rawwrrrr!)

What is common to all of the following:
  1. A chocolate bar stolen from an office desk.
  2. A bunch of sticky notes covering an entire office PC monitor.
  3. A pile of hole puncher residues left on an office desk.
If you answered with “you [as in yours truly] has been the first to be named the suspect committing the above office crimes” then you won yourself the right to go on holidays. You deserve it.
Me, I’m bothered thinking what it is exactly that I have done to earn this honor. No, I did not commit any of the above: I looked at that chocolate bar long and hard, the way I look at any piece of chocolate, but I have this tendency not to take things that aren’t mine away; I’m too much of a greenie to waste sticky papers on a practical joke; and as the father of a three year old whose mess I need to clean after several times a day I consider creating a mess for others a crime worthy of capital punishment.
So, why was I accused of the above?
I could invoke the racial card and I could invoke the cultural card. I could also invoke the religious card: enough people around me either consider me the resident Jew or know me for an atheist, and let’s face it – the majority are believers, and the majority doesn’t like to see others criticizing belief. It makes them think they might be riding the wrong horse, and that makes them uncomfortable.
I won’t invoke any of these specific cards, though. I think the correct answer is some sort of a mix of all of the above and then some. I think the correct answer is simply that I stand out amongst the crowd: I look different, I behave different, but most importantly – I’m a very opinionated person who does not hesitate to state his opinions loudly and clearly.
The problem here is that through being different and through not letting myself fade into the background I attract attention. I have been created myself the image of a troublemaker when, in my honest opinion, I am anything but.
That saddens me: it makes me think [again] that I might be working at the wrong place. It saddens me even more to see history repeating: from Joan of Arc to Nelson Mandela, those that stand out tend to pay a price for doing so. I do not pretend to be anything like these two, but more than before this firsthand experience of mine certainly makes me appreciate what people have been through in the ongoing struggle to make the world a better place, surrounded as they were/are by a generally indifferent public.

Image by @superamit, Creative Commons license


Sarah said...

Did you watch "Go back to where you came from" on SBS this week?

Moshe Reuveni said...

I read about it in Twitter and looked at it here and there via the SBS website. I cannot say I have much affection to reality TV, nor do I think spending my time getting aggravated by a bunch of racist morons is particularly productive.
That said, there is the question of how representative of the general Australian public the people on the show are. Given the way the big parties are going at it (and the way they run their focus groups to know what the public is thinking), the picture is pretty grim. Personally, I don't think the people at my workplace are as bad; I did encounter a moron here and there, but in general I think I'm lucky.
It also has to be said that in no way is Australia unique. Sure, racism is rampant here (I don't need SBS to know that), but that is the case in most countries. I would probably argue Australia is better than most other countries in the racism factor.
To take the Israeli example, not only does Israel have severe racism issues between Jews and Arabs, there are also internal racism between Jews. There has never been an Israeli Prime Minister who did not come from European origins (aka Ashkenazi), as opposed to the Jews coming from Africa or Asia (Sefaradim).

Sarah said...

I think the point of the show was not so much for changing the 6 participants views which were pretty naive, ingrained, uneducated and frankly embarrassing but to open the eyes of the home viewers. If there had been another documentary about the refugee experience no-one would have watched as there would have been that level of discomfort translated into disinterest. This was clever though as we watched and were horrified by this one young girl's racism and stereotyping (although she was happy to sit at home unemployed not looking for work and being a dole blugger -another stereotype hey!) we also experienced the refugees experience from war torn home land to trying to integrate into Australian society. Even though we thought we were watching the participants journey, our beliefs were being challenged and hopefully changed too. From the buzz on Facebook every night there were ALOT of people watching.

I thought it was a good program. However I do tend to like good reality shows that give me insights into the way people work. To see into other people's worlds and how people can interpret the same events very different. I suppose the same reason I like reading blogs.

Moshe Reuveni said...

You convinced me long before I read your last sentence. Thanks for the very well laid argument.
For the record, in between my previous answer and your latest feedback we did watch the first two episodes in their entirety over the Internet (the third wasn't available yet) and we thought they were good.
I cannot, however, say it was particularly illuminating to me personally. There are ways of knowing what goes on with these refugees if you are really interested and if you do not take the words of the Abbotts and the Howards as the gospel (that is, if you like to think for yourself). To me, there is always the litmus test of answering the following question: how would a Jew fleeing Nazi Germany fare?
Not very well as far as Australia's current policies are concerned.