March 24, 2021
Reading time: 4 mins
The world is grieving.
They were mothers, grandmothers, sisters, daughters, aunts, nieces, cousins.
Though some 15,000 kilometers away from the United States, the recent tragedy in Atlanta has had a profound effect on all of us in Australia, especially within the Asian community.
In all honesty, my dominant emotion upon hearing the news is one of numbness. I attribute this to my awareness of the fact that most of the news reported are overwhelmingly negative rather than positive, I have also been fortunate enough to experience equality and indiscrimination for the majority of my life – I have no recollection of personally experiencing any racial motivated attacks and I hope I will never get to experience it.
As I tuned into various social media channels and digested the emotional reactions and the lengthy discussions on laws, reforms and punishments, I silently sat there asking myself: but what is the one thing that we can all do to reach equality?
Before we dig deeper, my simple answer is this: that one thing is to be kind.
You might think that it is impossible. You say, how does just me being kind add up to anything substantial?
So then you quit before you even start; you quit before you even give it a go.
There is this one quote I heard a long time ago but has remained with me and greatly influenced how I approach life:
Let everyone sweep in front of their own door, and the whole world will be clean.
In the same parallel, if our final destination is to achieve equality and fairness in every hidden corner of the world, then let us all constantly show kindness and empathy towards one another, the next time we have any encounters with each other. And the next time after that. And then some.
A little simple gesture really goes a long way. We often underestimate two things: the long term impact we have on others, and the automatic human nature of grouping things together.
You’re Asian, driving on a main road and come to a stop. A car is trying to come out of the side street. You could easily ignore them, but you consciously leave enough space and choose to let him get onto the main road. They make eye contact with you, give you a warm smile and wave a thank-you hand gesture.
You won’t ever know it – but just maybe, at some point in the future, in the most random conversations with their friends, that driver you gave way to is praising Asians as some of the nicest people around. And all they see in their mind when they make this judgement call is your face when you decided to kindly give way to them that day.
Maybe they used to dislike Asians. But not anymore – they become warmer to the Asian community around them, because that day when they were in a rush, one of the Asians they shared roads with (i.e. you) gave way to them.
Compare that against the opposite side of the spectrum. How many times have you heard people ramble on about how ALL white dudes or ALL Asian women or ALL black people behave in certain ways – just because their personal experiences dealing with ONE white dude or ONE Asian woman or ONE black person told them so?
I’m not saying that just by giving way on the streets to someone will eradicate racism and discrimination.
I’m saying that we all subconsciously like to generalise reality to a certain degree. How kind you are to people in all sorts of situations could potentially spark a change in erroneous beliefs, wrongful judgements and blatant hatred on a particular kind of population, be it Asians, Blacks, Whites and all else.
Don’t ever feel like the kind soul of yours is not making a contribution in improving equality and racial justice. You are sweeping your own front yard, so you are making the world a cleaner place to live in. Nobody else will sweep your yard for you.
Being kind just once could spark a change.
Just imagine being kind for a million times over.
And just imagine it’s not just you doing it, it’s everyone doing it.
To make the world a better place tomorrow, it all starts with you and me today.
December 12, 2020
As a kid I lived in an Asian society where school grades were everything that mattered, and my B+ was always compared to the A+ someone else got.
It was never the poorer grades, the C’s and D’s, that someone else got.
When I wanted some new toy cars to add to my existing collection, I was denied and asked by my parents to think about kids whose parents couldn’t afford any toys at all.
It was never the kids with a bigger and better collection that my parents asked me to think about.
November 28, 2020
What does it mean when our typical Asian mothers stay up until 1am just to make sure we come home in one piece?
What does it really mean when no single soul in the household mutters the words “I love you” and when you do say those words, they think if you’re drunk or in some sort of accident?