The thing about life is it’s enough to drive you crazy. The more we try to make sense of it all is the more we find ourselves insane while trying to understand why things happen. It is beyond me to know why good things happen to bad people and bad things happen to good. It is beyond me to understand why children get sick, or worse. I can’t make sense of it. Neither can you. Or maybe you can, but still, I see no explanation that can validate the crazy tragedies we go through.
I am no one that is so unusual or random here in this world. I am no different from anyone; yet, in my own right I am the only “Me” in town. I am perfectly me, in fact, because being me is the only thing I am perfectly capable of without error.
Each morning, I ride on the bus and make my way to my day job. And I say my day job because I have several jobs. I have several hopes and dreams too. I have several responsibilities. I interact with different people, different attitudes, and different problems.
I weave through streets in the City the never sleeps; only, I never see myself as king of the hill or top of the heap. But more, I see me like a prince in a kingdom of my own. I am deeply thinking sometimes—so deeply that I pass by the various homeless that sit with varying signs to tell a story but all of the bottom lines come down to the common denominator, which is to ask for a handout of money or food.
They are not me and I am not them. But yet, are any of us so different? Is it possible that one wrong move or one unfortunate steps could put me in the same place or in the same predicament?
More so, I see myself as blessed and fortunate; however, I also see my work in a field of mental illness (or wellness, which is what I prefer.)
I understand that no one asks for this to be them and the pathology and science behind behavior is such a complex, yet simple thing, that we point and we blame, and we explain for hours, but yet, no one knows why some people get well and others stay as they are. At least, not really.
Safe to say I am not so different from any of the 8.55 million people that live here. Safe to say that everyone has their moments of introspection—or, maybe they don’t.
Even still, I see life coming to a boiling point. I can feel the tension in the air. Is it racial? Is it political? Is it me or you? Or, is it the fact that we have become a society addicted to outrage and we smile at the witch hunts. Hatred is a fuel source that burns hot. I can say that I have seen this first hand.
A few weeks back, I sat in a classroom to learn more about the ethics side of coaching and counseling. I was in a small, upstairs classroom in a neighborhood that has gone through several facelifts since my last visit. Then again, my last trip here was for a reason that was less than good. I was over on 116th street, looking for a bag of something that I will only name as Crazy Eddie. Nevertheless, the neighborhood was unrecognizable to me. Then again, the person I was back then is equally recognizable. But I digress.
In a roomful of people, I being the only one with white skin, it was interesting for me to sit in the classroom and hear the discussion of racism; as if to suggest, I had no idea this existed. Only, I do know. I do understand what racism is.
I know firsthand what it means to not be liked because of a lifestyle or belief system. I have been beaten up for not fitting in before. I have been shamed because of my background.
I know there is generation of my family that never made it out alive in Austria. I know there members of my family that were brutally killed in concentration camps. I know what the word Auschwitz means and Mauthausen too.
However, the interesting part of this classroom conversation is this went with little validation. I was actually told by a student, “When you apologize for what happened to my people,” meaning black people, “Then I will apologize for what happened to your people.”
Only, this student wasn’t black. He was Hispanic. so I was trying hard to understand where he was coming from. Keep in mind, this is not to lead into an a debate over white privilege. This was simply a comment said by a young man that was not happy with our differences. however, this was about him and not about me.
I was a student here myself. I was asked if I experienced hatred, which I have, which I have been victim of, which I have also (and regretfully) equally committed the same hatred during my younger years to find revenge for some of the beatings I took.
This is my point; however, I cannot and will not explain hate. I just know this is not a one-sided problem. I cannot do anything about the way people are. I cannot stop the mad dash for the subways and the pushing that goes through the doorways, just to cram in but not move to the center of the car to let others in. I cannot make sense of the epidemics. i cannot solve the arguments that go on throughout the day.
I cannot and will not look for an explanation as to why we are the way we are. I know who I am. I know that I am a small moving part of a much bigger machine called life.
The reason behind the class I took was to learn more about culture competence so that I can be helpful to any client, regardless to race, religion, orientation, and otherwise.
Admittedly, I am in a different position than the others that were in this classroom. I understand where my privilege begins and where it ends. I know I cannot make sense out of life or how we live. Truth is I am not looking to make sense of life. No, I just want to help life be better for me and those that choose to interact with me
The “Us against Them” or “Them against Us” ideas are not working. The tension is incredible. I was told it takes a village to raise a child. But where’s the child? Or better yet, where’s the village? Too busy arguing is what it seems like to me.
I learned about the people in the classroom and they learned about me. We learned about judgement and bias. We learned that although facially different and racially different, either way, we all feel similarly. We all have a heart. We all have wants and desires, and all too often, we assume what we know about others. All I know is assumptions are not always fact.
I am about to leave home now. I am about to make my way to work and be that moving piece of a machine we call the workforce. I know I can’t oil this machine. But, I can do my part in order to move smoothly. The rest is beyond my control