Almost Minbari Mondays, and, I am not my government

This post, still sadly relevant, I believe, is another reason that our Republic must become more fully inclusive for all of us.   Oh, and soon, Mindful or Moody Mondays will become Minbari Mondays, when I begin a Babylon 5 re-watch.

When I lived in Turkey, in 2005, the US was pushing for Turkey to acknowledge a certain historical event an a way that Turks saw as biased against them.  I had been living in Izmir long enough to speak passable Turkish, and was regularly invited to my neighbors apartments to eat breakfasts, dinners, have coffee, and pass time with many of them.  One day, one of these neighbors came running up to me as I walked home from work, visibly upset, and began shouting at me in Turkish:  about my government trying to force her government to admit to a crime that had not been a crime.  She went on, quite emotionally and a bit frighteningly to me, as another neighbor came to stand by me, insisting that Turkey was being blamed, set up, or otherwise abused, and apparently blaming me for all of this.   Yet, I had left my own country, as I tried to explain to her, for the very same reasons she was angry with my government:  there was injustice being committed by my government, and I was powerless, as an ordinary citizen, to change that.  More of my neighbors arrived, giving her similar explanations, and comforting both of us as we all walked into our building.  I was stunned that I could be the target of such misplaced anger, apparently simply because I was the only US citizen most of them knew who actually spoke Turkish and lived in a lower middle class Turkish neighborhood, rather than in an expensive expat enclave.

Later, a similar thing happened.    Different country, same idea.

When I lived in England, in either 2006 or 2007 I believe, one day at a gathering, someone walked up to me and introduced herself.  Before I could finish responding with “Hi, my name is,”  she shouted “You’re an American!” turned on her heel, and stormed away, leaving me stunned and saddened.  I had  left my country of origin because of allegations of being “unpatriotic,” “un-American,” and siding with socialists even on the subject of illegal torture always being, well, illegal.  Yet here I was being broadsided by a similar blind hatred based on my national origin, and based on the assumption that I must supposedly agree with the policies of the government of the country in which I was born.

Just recently, online, a person from Bulgaria commented, when I pointed out that she’d misread, or not read, the details and context of a comment I’d written which she was criticizing, ended the exchange by cursing me as a person from “that Trump country America,” etc, apparently conflating my critique of her (lack of) reading, with the fact that I live in the United States, and thus assuming that I must be entirely pro American governmental policies.   Yet, nothing could be further from the truth, at least regarding my association with Trump’s policies or presence in government.   Not only did I vote against him, but I spent a great deal of time working to persuade others to do likewise, and to mitigate the results of policies, particularly anti-immigrant policies, implemented by his administration.  (I am, after all, also a volunteer for an organisation that visits detained asylum-seekers…)

Yet, once again, I’ve been relegated to the status of an American who must therefore agree with my current government’s policies, however inaccurate this assumption may actually be.

As with the situation in England and in Turkey, no one  consulted me for my actual opinion on the matter,  but I was automatically the target of anger as a representative of my country of origin, based on a mistaken idea that I must agree with or represent that government.  The irony is that in fact I had left the country, or risked reaching out to someone in another country, precisely because I disagreed and disagree with and refused to fund, via my presence in the country and hence economic support via rent, food expenses, income tax, etc.  My reasons for living in a state that opposes the policies of this administration reflect the same reasons I left in 2004:  it is my duty as a citizen of a republic to uphold the ideals of the republic, even when difficult.  Now, perhaps more than at any other time in history, I feel it my duty to lend my little weight to efforts to change the course of this, my native country, toward the ideals voiced in the Declaration of Independence and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  But no one ever asked me about that.

 

So why do we human beings tend to assume that someone from a particular country must represent or even agree with the person or policies in power at the time?    Why are all people taken to represent the worst in where they come from?  Should we all not take the time to inquire of each person where he or she stands before casting the accusation of collaboration with injustice?

So, it turns out that both of the activist organizations I was a part of when I originally wrote this post tended to work for the Cause, but neglected to bother taking care of fellow members of the group.  Thus, when I burned out from one and after months of bullying from two members of the other, I left both groups, unfortunately.  How do we human beings manage to survive, turning on each other as we do?

Action Items:

1.) Search for two different sources related to the Holocene Epoch and to the Holocene Calendar, and consider whether you think that an inclusive calendar might help us stop bullying each other, please,

2.) Share your thoughts with us in the comments, here, please.

3.) Share your thoughts on how a calendar based on the Holocene Epoch might help, or hinder, inclusive thinking,

4.) Write a book, blog post or tweet that uses an alternate calendar, tells a good story, and makes a difference. I’m working on that through my historical fantasy #WiP, #WhoByFireIWill. If you write a book, once published, please consider donating to your local public library.

Dear Readers, ideas on learning, especially multiple #LanguageLearning, on-going education and empathy-building, to #EndPoverty, #EndHomelessness,  #EndMoneyBail & achieve freedom for All HumanKind

Support our key #PublicDomainInfrastructure  & #StopSmoking for CCOVID-19:
1. #PublicLibraries,
2. #ProBono legal aid and Education,
3. #UniversalHealthCare, and
4. good #publictransport
Read, Write -one can add Stayed on Freedom’s Call via this GR button:

Yassas,   γεια σας!    Salût !  Nos vemos!  Görüşürüz!     ! שָׁלוֹם

ShiraDest

December, 2020 CE = December 12020 HE

(The previous lesson 20/67 published since this post, and the most recent lesson 21/67…)

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28 thoughts on “Almost Minbari Mondays, and, I am not my government

  1. I guess people tend to associate a person with the country they are from and with stereotypes about people from that country. Unfortunately, as someone who has immigrated from my country I know how that feels and it sucks. Like you, most people don’t fully agree with their government or the policies set by them but people sometimes don’t take the time to actually talk to them and find out what their thoughts are.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Very good points, PoojaG, and thank you for making them. I just wish there were a way, or a visible way, or an easier way, or all three, to get people to take that time.
      Thank you for taking your time to be here with us,
      Warmest regards,
      -Shira

      Liked by 2 people

        1. I’m with you in that hope, even if it means that I need to have the faith that our hope is not in vain, PoojaG, and, in the immortal words of Babylon 5:

          “Faith Manages…”

          -Shira

          Liked by 2 people

  2. Offhand, I can think of two times when this happened to me, both quite harmless. The first was when I was on a bicycle trip through Portugal in 1963 when someone, on learning that I was American, asked me: Why did your Secretary of State say this or that about Portugal? At the time, I didn’t even know who the Secretary of State was (I thought Adlai Stevenson, but it was actually Dean Rusk) and had no idea what, if anything, he might have said about Portugal.
    The other time was in East Germany, less than a week after the wall came down in 1989. On a suburban train in Rostock I had a chat with some friendly young men who turned out to be soldiers in the People’s Army, and this was the first time they were allowed to go out for the evening in civilian clothes. I forget what all they asked me, but they seemed to assume that Ronald Reagan was still president and that I was a fan of his, neither of which was true.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Nemorino, I think this point up something important: people often seem to get their ideas about places from old news, and then go on to form assumptions about most or all of the people from those places based on that mis (or dis)-information.
      I think that if we could have a massive (and free) exchange of people when they are young, as the Gap year in Europe, there might be far less misunderstanding, and perhaps, as SERVAS posits, also far less war?

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I wonder if this is more of a reflection on these other countries. I haven’t been to Turkey, England, or Bulgaria, or any foreign country where someone made an assumption about my political leanings based on my being an American (I had plenty of people make assumptions about my willingness for sexual activity based on my being an American, but there are jerks everywhere. Anyway, not the point.) wonder if these countries are either more homogenous in political belief, or if minority opinion is more suppressed, or if these are countries with a more patriotic sentiment towards their own country, such that casting those aspirations on a foreigner is a more reasonable assumption from where they are standing. America is heterogenous in a way that others outside the country may just not appreciate.

    Still, no one deserves that kind of abuse – both the verbal abuse from these strangers (bizarre! I cannot imagine the thought process that leads to someone unleashing on a stranger because of baseless assumptions) and the bullying you described from the organization you work with. Horrible. What an awful experience.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, JYP:
      That is an interesting question: I cannot speak to Bulgaria, although I did work with a lady, in Izmir, whose family was one of the ‘gocmenler’ or population-exchangees, involuntarily, around 1923-ish, after Ataturk created the Turkish republic, and most muslims were kicked out of Bulgaria, as Greeks, Armenians, etc were kicked out of Turkey, and the entire region generally set the stage for the 1947 movement between India and Pakistan.
      Turkey, Bulgaria, and to some extend England, all went through a period of population ‘cleansing’ of some sort, or wanted to, if you count the British anti-immigrant bias, which was quite strong even against myself, as an American PhD student. Working class Brits that I mean near London and Bath, especially, were rather unpleasant. It was very different, though, in Turkey. Turks expected a person to be loyal and even chauvinistic toward the place that person was born in, and not to criticise the country of birth, so they were always shocked when I disagreed with US government policy. I suspect that the rule of Erdogan and the previous military ‘events’ that had taken place in 1981 and 2000, if I recall correctly, still had their effects, since I was told that people were still very afraid of the police, even though they (in theory) no longer tortured people. In fact, one of the papers, Cumhuriet, I imagine, broke a story of equipment found in various police stations, with the captains of the stations denying ever having seen the equipment. So, maybe you’re right about the idea of homogeneity, or that that is the way things ought to be (I certainly saw lots of that, but we have many people here in the US with strict ideas of how things ‘ought’ to be…).
      My question remains:
      How can we help change this situation?
      That was a reason that I joined SERVAS back in 2003, and hosted travelers when I lived in Izmir and in Bath (the UK), but the trouble with SERVAS is that one still has to have the money for the plane/train ticket and a passport.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. It is interesting. I should clarify that by homogenity / heterogenity, I meant the breadth of political opinions that are/can be expressed publicly. It wasn’t meant to suggest that everyone outside US agrees with their government or that no one in the US does.
        To your question, it’s definitely a challenge. I think a study of history and context helps. Listening / reading the experiences of individuals, particularly individual experiences that fall outside the ‘desired narrative’ help. But it’s difficult to teach people how to be good listeners.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Fair enough: so you think that reading (and writing) #OwnVoices stories may help, along with sharing history and context? Makes sense, and I fully agree.
          I’ve been wishing for some sort of PSA campaign like those back during President Carter’s administration, some way of broadly getting these things out there.
          And continuing to learn to listen. I keep working on it 🙂 Not an easy task, so how do we encourage all of us to do the work of listening?

          Liked by 2 people

        2. Encourage asking questions, having an open mind, seeking to understand rather than argue or ‘win’ or shut down. Also, listening doesn’t mean agreement; it really just means a genuine desire to understand. Unfortunately, I sense that desire is often lacking.

          Liked by 1 person

        3. Exactly, and likewise, JYP, unfortunately. Like the problem of appearing to listen while merely preparing your counter-argument.
          Ask, open, listening to understand (aka listening with empathy, I think I may have seen somewhere?) as action items?

          Liked by 1 person

  4. Perhaps people assume that a leader who wins an election in a country that is supposedly the paragon of democracy is unlikely to be much of an outlier.

    Another example I can think of when it comes to country support vs. government support is the Israeli government’s handling of settlements in the occupied territories. Support for Israel’s right to exist sometimes gets conflated with support for oppressive practices, as some people fail to recognize that support for the state doesn’t necessarily mean support for the government’s decisions.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Ashley:
      I hadn’t considered it from that perspective.
      In other words, that people from that country must be more or less like the leader, since they don’t know how diverse the country really is due to suppressed dissension. I can see that.
      Yes, I see what you mean now: many people fail to distinguish critique of current policy from critique of existence entirely. A fair point.
      Is it a matter of education, or more a matter of taking the time to see past the knee-jerk reaction in order to make those distinctions? Actually, come to think of it, that is still a matter of education: but of emotional education for emotional intelligence, which we so rarely teach, at this point, here in the US.
      No?
      -Shira

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I think it’s a matter of education, but not in the traditional sense. The best way to learn about diverse views within the same country is likely to actually have the chance to speak with, or at least hear from, average citizens with different views.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Thank you! That is exactly what I liked about SERVAS, and the European tradition of the Gap Year.
          Of course both of those require at least either money to travel or access to internet and devices to be able to make contact with folks from a variety of places in the country, or better yet, a new version of the CCC (F. D. Roosevelt’s so-called ‘Tree Army’ that sent young men all around the country doing public infrastructure work), or civilian service, as the Germans have their kids do.
          Whether we’re talking domestic or international, I agree that you are right: it is vital to be able to meet and speak with ‘normal’ people from a range of backgrounds in different parts of the country. This was part of the reason I chose to work in Turkey and start learning Turkish before I got there, and the same with my teaching job in Mexico and Spanish. This is one of the reasons I also try to emphasize language learning in my posts: it is vital to seeing the other person’s point of view, in my humble opinion.

          Liked by 2 people

        2. Coolness, Thank you Ashley! 🙂
          I still feel guilty for dreaming, alot of the time, like I need to get my “head out of the clouds.”
          Hmm, online and social media: I’ll ponder that some more.
          Thanks again, Ashley! 🙂

          Liked by 2 people

  5. None of us like bring unfairly stereotyped, yet I wonder how many of us do it, maybe even for the best of intentions. All fill in the blank prefer this or that. All Democrats must be socialists and all Republicans must be fascists.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Quite true. We all have biases of some kind, but I think that the trick is to be aware of both the biases, and of the fact that the person standing in front of us is not a stereotype, but an individual (who may or may not conform, willingly or not, to some traits seen in stereotypical or archetypical types…).
      Stay safe,
      -Shira

      Liked by 2 people

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