a comfortable cup of tea

a comfortable cup of tea

Sunday, June 29, 2008

“You still don’t understand but I’ll try and help you to”…

Having spent two years in the middle 1990s living and working with the Sisters and people of the barrios of Argentina, I returned to the states with a yearning to continue the profoundly Spirit-filled relationship with which I had been gifted among the Latin American community; not to mention an additional desire to maintain the language I had so painstakingly acquired. Hence, I found myself once more settling into the barrio, this time in the southwest of the United States, where I would spend the next four years discovering and enlightening others about the heart matters of living in a multicultural world. And in the process, like with any endeavor toward further learning and hopefully growth, I had once more discovered that the more enlightened I became, the more I learned how unenlightened I actually was. One warm, spring day (which in south Texas is most difficult to identify from “any other” day of the year!), having recently completed a full day’s presentation on the perceptions of power and their affects on styles of communication, I decided to get a bit of fresh air with my co-presenter whom also had become a good friend. She needed to run an errand and I agreed to go along for the ride. We arrived at a major computer retail store where my friend was returning a pricey laptop she had purchased the week before. While she bargained with the salesclerk who was refusing to give her a cash refund because he claimed the store did not have that kind of cash on hand, I looked around at the numerous innovative technological inventions. After some 20 minutes or so, I returned to the counter where my friend had finally convinced the manager that she was not leaving the store without the deserved cash in hand. When the manager appeared from the back and saw me talking with his customer, he went to a nearby register and returned with a plethora of twenty-dollar bills and promptly placed them in my possession. As he apologized for the misunderstanding, I thanked him and meticulously counted the amount to be sure that all was accounted for. I asked if he might have an envelope with which to contain the tall stack of bills and when he produced one from behind the counter, I placed the money inside, handed the envelope to my friend, and turned to depart from the same door through which we had entered. “So, you want to get something to eat?” I asked my friend once we arrived at the car. I was pleased she was able to complete her errand and we still had more than an hour before our next presentation. She looked at me with a compassionately concerned expression - that half-grin-half-frown look that says “you still don’t understand but I’ll try and help you to” - and then she replied, “Do you know what just happened back there?” In all my educated ignorance I had to admit, I had not the slightest clue. And in the process of our conversation, like with any endeavor toward further learning and hopefully growth, I had once more discovered that the more enlightened I became, the more I learned how unenlightened I actually was. My friend was a dark-skinned Mexican-American female; the year was 2001; the city, an overwhelmingly Hispanic-populated San Antonio, Texas. Questions for reflection: · When might you have been involved in the blatant discrimination of another/others and been too ignorant to have recognized it? · Has anyone ever pointed out your involvement in a situation of discrimination, prejudice, or racism and, because you did not experience the situation as such, you denied it? · If you say something that offends another person but you do not mean it to be offensive, is it your responsibility to apologize or the other person’s responsibility to get beyond it? from A question and a cutie for your Friday Nothing is more loving than God and more hateful than the devil. Nothing is what the rich always want and the poor always have. Abuse nothing and you shall live; consume nothing and you shall die.

1 comment:

Tipper said...

WOW a very moving post. I'll have to think on the questions you asked. I've lived such a sheltered life I have truly not had to face many such situations.

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