by Earlie Doriman
It should never be an offense to be different; should it? Diversity, in general terms, is supposed to provide a harmonious intertwining of culture, way of life, and customs which ought to build a more cohesive and productive community. A community that is based on impartiality, respect, understanding, and love; and a society that regards others as persons who possess similar rights and dignity, except when one exhibits an unacceptable behaviour or extreme roughness towards others and his character exposes an impending danger to the security and peace of the many. In the absence of any uncivilized acts, no one is superior above others and obviously no one has the right to dictate how anyone else celebrates and be happy in his very own dwelling. Even to an immigrant.
Each of us is inherently rightful to hoist concerns or carry complains against others if we believe with fairness that we are aggrieved and that the other person’s gestures, acts, words, or inactions, have deliberately caused displeasure, distraction, and violations to our very own rights and liberties. But if complains were groundless and maliciously inflated, then that particular action is synonymous to discrimination and bigotry.
I am deeply engaged to embark on this issue because of the very recent incident which emerged from an ordinary BARBECUE SMOKE. This topic may seem so myopic or as a matter of fact frankly myopic, yet relevant to most people who are migrants or immigrants to a particular country. It is indeed sad to be in a different world where the wavelengths of your thinking and feeling do not create an ‘in-phase’ to the thinking and feeling of a small number of significant others, and useless conflicts arise out of the equally useless reasons like the BARBECUE SMOKE.
When does BARBECUING become a breach to a community system of rule? When does it become a misdemeanor? When does your neighbor cease to be a friend and an ally? Differences in culture and way of life have both advantages and disadvantages. In most cases though, the inconveniences outnumbered the benefits especially when one is a stranger to another place and trivialize by the differences in colour and race.
If you live in the UK, you would surely agree that a good weather is scarce and unpredictable. Most noticeably, summer time does not guarantee you a good sunshine to enjoy the full length of your summer vacation. Instead, you would be annoyed by cloudy skies and patchy rains scattered throughout each week. For few treat and blessing of good sunlight, BARBECUING is one inviting activity that Filipinos, like me enjoys to do. It becomes an opportune time to get-together, chat, share, and for our kids to play with other children in an unstructured sort of fellowship.
Why that BARBECUE SMOKE needs an awful lot of explaining is practically funny and absurd. A very good family friend received a letter from the borough council three days ago and the barbecue smoke seemed to be the culprit. A neighbor complained about how displeased they were at the frequent barbequing at our friend’s place. They were asked to explain to the council and express their side of the complaint. There are things that made our friend incensed: Firstly, ‘frequent barbecuing’ was an exaggeration and considering the few good sunshine we have here since the start of spring until now, they only had few ‘barbecuing sessions’ so far. Secondly, they are not the only people in this country who enjoy barbecuing. It has become a universal summer activity and everybody loves it but the complainant. Thirdly, there are so many people around the community and other neighbours who were barbecuing too, but strangely so, our friend has been singled out for that. Finally, how could there be frequent barbecuing when the family members are all working most of the days and definitely not just ‘benefit-parasites’ waiting for the undeserved allowance.
But we see the reasons why, we are a different race, we have different colour, and we certainly know how to enjoy life. In fact, the barbecuing happened in the premises of a private property, of a faithful healthworker and taxpayer. Now then, is there a single reason for the neighbour to be upset about? I don’t think so, unless in their hearts they are upset to see us around blissful and happy. That’s just the way we celebrate life. We know how to wear a genuine smile in spite of the longing for home. That’s just the way they are as well. Nevertheless, we make good friends to many of them and at the end of the day, we would still be grateful that this country has been our second family and a home to our children and their future.