I don’t really “do” social media much anymore. I find it doesn’t sit well with my mental health. Much like the general media really. However, I have started a few months ago going back on to access some of the writing and family history groups.
Last weekend when I logged in, the words at the top of the screen were ‘go back to where you came from you fucking immigrant.’
They’d been written by a graphic designer I’d followed a couple of years ago. A creative whose work I really admired.
He had just returned from his local store where he’d gone to buy some detergent. He’d worn a mask as he is currently living in Melbourne. The words weren’t spoken by him. They were directed at him as he walked along the footpath to the store by a man wearing an Australian flag over his nose and mouth.
He did not deserve this. No one deserves this.
I wonder how terrible this must feel to have this said to you.
I wonder how people can feel so unhappy in themselves they resort to attacking strangers in the street.
And I wonder what I can do about it?
I sent a private message and received a response. I knew I would. He’s that type of person. Kind, caring. He thanked me for ‘filling his cup back up.’
It doesn’t feel like enough. But what else can I do?
I don’t know who the other person is, let alone have a means to speak to them.
And what would I say, and how would I say it?
How do you say ‘don’t be a dick’ in a kind way, in an influencing setting-an-example kind of way, in a way which might just make him behave differently next time?
How do you tackle racism and bigotry with rationale and facts? With emotional intelligence? How can you bring someone to a place of recognising humanity in everyone they see?
What would you say if this happened when you were walking by?
Would you ignore it? Cover the ears of your children and keep walking?
Or would you stop, face the storm and say ‘hey mate, that’s not okay’? Would you believe in your values enough to show strength in them?
I hope I would.