I went to what is considered by many to be the top-ranked high school in the country, a boarding school over 200 years old that counts many of the wealthiest and most influential Americans as alumni.
Every night we would check into the dorm at curfew, ensuring that every student was “home safe” and accounted for.
I distinctly remember my ninth-grade year, my first at the school, in large part because it was all such a new and striking experience for me, the scholarship kid who had never been to private school and had no frame of reference for the unique world I now inhabited full-time.
One night, at check-in, the senior classman taking our names, who happened to be from Hong Kong, looked at me and said, “Didn’t I check you in already?” I replied, “No, that was Matt.” He looked down at his roll sheet and back up at me and said, “All you white guys look alike to me anyway.”
We both laughed. With a student population that was unusually diverse in terms of ethnicity and background, but largely from wealthy, highly educated and well-traveled families, we lived in a sort of cocoon that allowed for a type of razor’s-edge, politically incorrect humor that was a hallmark of living so far away from home with only your peers to shape your life experience. Trash-talking was part of the package, but it never devolved into anything worse, because deep down there was a basic respect and awareness that the uniqueness of each individual at the school was what made campus life so rewarding and interesting.
Targeting people, especially strangers at random, to be punished simply because of how they look or where they come from is insane behavior that should be treated as such. There is no place for it in a civilized society.
When reading articles and blogs about the recent spate of anti-Asian incidents of violence and hate speech, I can’t help but think back to that sheltered environment and how different it was to the real-world challenges of living in a truly diverse, multicultural society. The insanity of targeting people because of the way they look, the color of their skin or the language they speak seems especially ridiculous at a time when we can travel the world at a moment’s notice on a device we can hold in the palm of your hand. Never in human history have we had so many tools and resources that can connect us, never so many opportunities to celebrate what is unique and wonderful about each and every culture.
As a Scientologist, it’s my personal reality that I have lived many, many lifetimes before this one. I have distinct memories of a wide variety of them. And those memories cover the globe in terms of race, language and gender. So targeting someone based on how “different” they are from me is laughable. We are all spiritual beings inhabiting bodies. The amount of pigment in this particular body’s skin, the color of my hair or eyes, or the language I speak have absolutely nothing to do with my value as a family member, community member or human being.
One definition of insanity is the inability to differentiate between things. To a truly insane person, a car might look like a spaceship, or a next-door neighbor like an FBI agent. Targeting people, especially strangers at random, to be punished simply because of how they look or where they come from is insane behavior that should be treated as such. There is no place for it in a civilized society.
Some of the most inspiring, brilliant, thoughtful and warm classmates I knew in school were Asian. That’s no surprise because the vast majority of people in every single ethnic group on Earth are fantastic people. Anyone who believes or espouses otherwise, anyone willing to denigrate other groups simply for being different, deserves to be ostracized, cast out and given no quarter. They are the only ones worth targeting.