Dear people of the world who are scared

Dear people of the world who are scared of other people of the world,

I get it. It’s weird. It doesn’t make much sense. Why don’t they hold the door open for you? Why do they sit on the floor instead of on the couch? Why don’t they clean their homes the same way? Why don’t they laugh at your jokes? Why do they behave so differently? Why do they believe something you’ve never heard of? Why do they say this instead of that?

It’s weird. I get it.

I get how much you want to feel safe. I get how much you want to be part of a community that understands who you are and why you do the things you do. It’s understandable. It’s uncomfortable to have to do things differently.

You want to wake up in the morning, have your cup of coffee or tea – the way you like it – and enjoy the day as it unfolds. You hope people will hold the door open for you. You hope people will feel comfortable in your home. You hope people will laugh at your jokes. You hope people will behave the same way and share the same ideals.

I get it.


The thing is, everyone in the world wants this. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from living in another country it’s that we all want to be understood.

I’ve also learned there are others who wonder why you hold the door open. They wonder why you can’t sit on the floor. They wonder why you clean your home the way you do. They wonder why you don’t laugh at their jokes. They wonder why you don’t believe what they believe. They wonder why you behave so differently. They wonder why you say that instead of this.

It’s weird. I get it.

We all want people to treat us in a way that’s normal. We all want to live in familiar surroundings. It just feels safer, and so much more comfortable. There’s no denying this. And there’s no shame in this either.

But here’s a question: how do you feel when you don’t think people get you? I’ll tell you what happens to me. When I feel like others don’t get me, I don’t feel safe. And when I don’t feel safe, I get defensive. And when I get defensive, I make bad decisions. I say and do things, that in hindsight, I’m not proud of.

You know what? I get why I react this way.

But you know what else? That doesn’t make it right.

We’re human. We make bad decisions everyday. But when we constantly judge someone for reacting exactly the same way we would, it’s time to check in with ourselves.

Because now I understand why we hold the door and they don’t. Now, I sometimes prefer to sit on the floor instead of on the couch. Now, I wonder why I used to clean my home the way I did. And now, I wonder why I used to laugh at those jokes.

But I still wonder about our collective beliefs. I still wonder about our collective behaviour. I still wonder why we both say this and that.

And now I almost get it: the “we” and the “they” are not so weird after all.

All good people agree,
And all good people say,
All nice people, like us, are We
And everyone else is They:
But if you cross over the sea,
Instead of over the way,
You may end by looking on We
As only a sort of They!

-Rudyard Kipling, “We and They”

We/They aren’t weird at all. In fact, we/they are all just living the life we/they know how to live, hoping that someone will understand us/them so that we/they can feel safe.

To read more on this topic, I highly recommend Tara Brach’s Trance of ‘Unreal Other’.


7 thoughts on “Dear people of the world who are scared

  1. Hey Josette – miss ya!

    Finally, after a year, getting around to replying to this wonderful post!

    The reason for the delay is that I have been in a pretty heavy depression since I returned to Chiang Mai. I left my job and China abruptly, based on conflicts I was having with the school – the same conflicts I have had in every job I’ve ever had, and I realized it was time to deal with the underlying issues causing them. So I launched into full-time recovery and inner healing work. It has been going well, but literally has almost killed me – SOOO much pain and trauma in my background, which has been buried deep in my subconscious and cells! I am fortunately to not be working and have the support of Bee and our “Beehive” here.

    How are things there? Any involvement in NVC there still? I have touched into the NVC practice group here, but withdrew to focus on my healing work.

    Lots of Love!




  2. Timely and poignant – how strong is the tendency to eschew “them!” One of the ways to discover that they are indeed we is, as you mention, is to spend time in “their” culture. Perhaps we could make it a graduation requirement for all students to spend at least a semester abroad….Thanks for the reminder, Josette!


  3. That’s all well and good in a land that is extremely tolerant of others’ views: even to the point of making your own feel like they no longer belong in their own home. But what about when they want to kill you for not having the same beliefs or feelings you have? What about when they want to alter the way you think and the way you live your life? What about when they despise you for what you believe in? What happens then? Is it really OK just to feel a little “weird”? Do you hold the door open for them to come into your house and tell your daughter she is inappropriately dressed? Or when you step out into the street and you’re looked at like you’re subhuman? Now, I know there are many who believe, “Oh, no! That doesn’t happen, you’re being ridiculous.” Well, allow me to let you into a little secret. It’s not ridiculous. It is happening right now. Right at this very minute. If you seriously believe it isn’t, you are doomed. Not today, not tomorrow, and maybe not in your lifetime (depends, of course), but your kids or your grandkids will have no other choice but to live with that horror. I have lived in 5 very diverse countries and visited many, many more. I know what I see. I know what I live amongst. And I also know that people who ignore it are facilitating the demise of our country as we know it, and are being the very thing you accuse others of being: ignorant. I’ll be surprised if this passes censorship though.


  4. Well said and written. And with a strong resonance. I always thought that growing up in a place where there were so many ‘they’ in South Africa would make all of ‘them’ realise this truth – we are all we. We/they even have a word for it – ubuntu – we are people because of people. And yet they/we are also scared. It takes an effort not to be, to accept, not reject.


  5. I am very proud of my daughter for putting into words what we should all reflect on in each our corners of the world. It is very well said. I have made that mistake many times but that does not mean I and others cannot try to make a difference by understanding this. Merci de la réflexion!


    1. Well said Guy ! I agree.

      As I see it:
      In hindsight, after words are said or actions are taken, they cannot be taken back, yet anyone can learn from their mistakes. Two wrongs don’t make a right & what is right for one person might not be right for another. An opinion is validated by respecting the other persons point of view, agreeing to disagree is acceptable yet not acknowledging someone’s opinion might have them perceive that people don’t care about their point of view. There are so many suffering in silence yet those who aren’t should consider planting a tree, doing good deeds, or writing a book to express themselves for others to completely understand their struggles, after all the best well known artists are the ones who express themselves fully in their work, without them thinking they will be judged, they expose their Truth, through writing, paintings, sculpting etc… is raw talent and how you decided to distribute it that compliments the struggles of the world !

      Great Work Josette ! You have a way of capturing my curiosity as to what you have to say. Love Your Insight <3
      Chris :-)


  6. That was wonderfully said Josette. I agree and stand with you on this message. As an expat living in a very different culture from my own, learning to accept cultural differences has been a real life lesson. Also, I am coming to learn that all living things are connected in the ‘circle of life’ (Lion King). So when we hurt others (our environment, the animals, our human brothers and sisters of different nationalities and races), we are in fact choosing to hurt ourselves. I have to hold on to hope and faith and I choose to believe the healers of the world are beginning to rise up and help lead us into an era of peace. That is my hope at least.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s