Are we free?
Time: 03/25/10 afternoon
Location: inside a subway cart
With only 3 hours of sleep the previous night, I quickly found a seat and became unconscious. Not for long, I got awaken by a passenger sitting next to me. A passenger who is the same race, similar age, and different sex to me. She wasn't trying wake me; she was trying to find something in her bag. While doing so, her elbow was constantly having contact to my arm and body (she must be looking for something important). So I was sitting there awake, with her elbow continuously touching me. I thought I should get annoyed by this, not a "telling her to 'watch it!'" kind, but a "little annoyed in my mind" kind. That was what my family, friends, society, and culture taught me to do. I was so freaking tired and it was a level 3 annoyance (level 10 would be something like "screaming in my face"). It's a common sense of how we should feel.
Then I thought, "screw it, I'm content as hell!" As I was calm and content with an elbow violating my space, some thoughts kicked in. "Does her race, age, and sex make it easier for me to stay calm?" "Yes, it does." "But does it mean that I have to get annoyed if it's a middle-aged Hispanic guy doing the same thing to me?" "Not necessary."
Maybe that's how all conflicts start. The more difference we seem to have, the more we blame each other for things. When something annoys us, we blame the individual causing it along with the group we categorize that individual. Examples:
- There's an insanely slow car in front of yours; you drive around it and take a look at the driver. The driver is a "_____" and you think "Sigh... figures."
- Someone walking behind you steps on your heel, you glance who's behind you and see a "______"; you classify that person with a certain group and curse that group in your mind.
When people choose to blame certain groups for these incidents, tensions between them grow little by little. Over time, mental tension would eventually explode into something physical. From annoyance to prejudice, from prejudice to discrimination, from discrimination to hatred, from hatred to verbal dispute, to physical fight, to riot, to war...
The good news is, you don't have to get annoyed by any of it in the first place. You can choose the way you feel about things. The bad news is, not many people realize the good news.
After all these thoughts, I realized that the girl was already gone. I lost my consciousness soon after.