Friday, January 9, 2009

Standing Up

I watched a show on television the other day that really bothered me. I think its called "What
Would You Do?". In the show they set up various situations with actors in a public place to see how people react. For example on one show they had a "mom" bring in her kids to a restaurant and let them run wild and filmed the reactions of the other people in the restaurant. There were not a few people that let the mom have a piece of their mind. Of course it was different when it was a "dad" with the kids--hardly anyone said anything! Another one was someone in a restaurant talking loudly on a cell phone, etc.

The episode I saw the other day was not as light hearted. It involved two hispanic migrant workers (actors) trying to order some food at a coffee shop. The employee behind the counter (also an actor) found any excuse to insult and demean them, refused to give them service, and asked them to take their business somewhere else. This guy did not hold back, no matter how many customers were around. He made fun of them because they did not speak English, he told them to go to Taco Bell, etc. All of this right in front of people. The workers asked many people to help. They clearly had the money to pay for their food, but very few people would help them, let alone stand up for them. It made my stomach sick to watch people being so obviously racially descriminated against and hardly anyone had the guts to stick up for them. I think they played the scene 60 times, and only about 40% of the time anyone had a problem with it, and nine people even agreed with it and made some comments of their own.

Growing up in Southern California, I am well aware of the issues with illegal immigrants. I taught ESL at an adult school, and of course many did not have a social security number to put on their records. We all turned a blind eye because we were teachers and educators and you don't turn a student away who wants to learn. Whether I agreed with their methods of getting here or not, I greatly respected my students. They were incredibly hard workers who were respectful and kind. But in reality, anyone who avoids paying taxes is a burden on the society in which they live. I believe many of the problems in Los Angeles exist because there are so many people, mostly hispanic, who live there illegally and do not pay taxes. The city does not have enough money to make their schools decent, let alone their highways driveable! That is why I voted against giving illegal immigrants driver's liscenses, and any other such propositions.

I firmly believe that you should abide by the laws and appropriate customs of the land in which you live. That is why when I lived in Taiwan I made a concerted effort to learn Chinese, and respect their customs. I was the only teacher I knew who hired a personal tutor to teach me the language. I was appalled by my friends who made no efforts to speak the native language. Who were we to go to their country, not just on vacation but for an extended period of time, and expect them to speak our language?!

With all of that said, racial descrimination is wrong no matter the reasons. I am not a confrontational person but I could never stand by and let a human being be treated so shamefully. We are all God's children and everyone deserves respect, regardless of their skin color, or nationality, or handicap, or age, or gender. It is one thing to make your opinion known on the ballot or in respectful communication, but it is quite another to be insulting and refuse to give someone service! One of the "actors" actually broke down crying afterward. He said he didn't understand how anyone could treat him that way. He said he was human too.

This morning Jaden was watching "Go Diego Go" and one of the characters told the viewer to say "Stop scaring her!" to someone who was behaving meanly. Jaden repeated "Stop scaring her!", and I was glad that the writers of the show cared about teaching children to stand up for what is right. Maybe if more of the new generation learn about standing up for what is morally right, when they are grown there will be more than %40 of them who will be strong and take a stand.

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