Wednesday, September 25, 2013
MY ENCOUNTER WITH A CURIOUS OLD 'WHITE' MAN
After having seen that I'm comfortably seated with my computer on, he walked up to me and asked without qualm.
"Are you hacking?"
Yeah, just like that. I looked at him curiously and retorted back: "Why would I do that?"
He confidently looked at me and said: "Some people have been hacking into people's computers here. I thought you were doing that."
I was a little upset so I looked at him with a frown and said: "No, I'm not hacking?"
He stood there looking at me and then said as he walked way: "I'm surprised you're behind time. I thought you knew what hacking means."
Very much controlled, I looked at him and said: "I know what hacking means but I just don't know why I'd hack into people's computers."
He then silently walked a way. I heard him talk to someone in the children's section of the library but I couldn't see who he was talking to. After talking to that person for sometimes, he walked back toward the area I was sitting in. He was sitting next to me. As he neared, I turned to him and said: "You have to be careful who you ask such types of questions."
He looked curiously at me and said self-righteously: "I don't know why someone would be upset when I'm just asking a question."
"Someone might assume you're accusing them and that can count as character assassination," I said.
The old man was confident. He shook his head and said. "I wasn't accusing you. It'd be an accusation if I'd pointed at you and asked "Why are you hacking?"
"I work with people from different parts of the world and what I've come to realize is that different cultures respond to the same question differently so you have to be careful how you approach people. I don't care about the question you asked, but some people might not take it well," I said.
"Why can't we just discuss issues like civilized people."
"I'm just cautioning you because you might find people who might perceive your question differently," I told him.
He thought I was being irrational and defensive and at the same time, wrong! He couldn't understand how his question could possibly be offensive to anyone. He assumed that as long as what he was saying was right, there's no reason for people to be upset.
I realized his understanding of civilization was limited so I didn't press him on that. He went on to say that even if he'd annoy someone by the question, which he considered right and innocent, he wasn't doing anything wrong. He assumed that whether his question annoyed me or anyone, it'd still remain within the law and truthfulness.
I also realized then that the old man had a certain perception of me so I decided to give him a dose of me. I told him that any questions anyone asks have motivations behind them. Before you asked that question, I said, you had to look around and perceptually rationalized who could be a possible hacker around here.
He told me that my perception would still be wrong and that his question would still remain lawful...that I'd have no case if I went to the police.
I told the old man that the law has no bearing on how we relate as individuals. He could say something absolutely lawful while our relation on personal level is ruined. What keeps us living cohesively is not law but our respectful communication. I went on to tell him the problem among people is not always what is spoken but what the intentions behind what is spoken are. I told him I could deduce his intentions and motivations from the words he speaks to me even if he doesn't divulge his intentions.
The old man realized I am some dude. He started to become fascinated. I went on to lecture to him about my experience with hacking in LAX. We talked about how people set people up with phony Wi-Fi networks to lure you into using those networks in order to get access to your computer. He asked question and after question until the my knowledge became limited.
Then my client came so he had to leave. After my client left, the old man, fascinated as hell, came back to me to ask about the LAX experience. Now, the fascination turned into asking about where I come from, about South Sudan and Sudan, Somalia, Kenya, Uganda.... etc..
Soon the talk turned into discussion about the wold politics. The old man realized I had something to say about Hamas, the Brotherhood in Egypt, Israel, Al-shabaab, Iran, Koreas, Canada...
Yeah, I became the old man's google that he didn't want me to leave. I had another appointment but the old man kept on asking as he appeared to be someone trying to prove to me that he knew about the world. I left with the old man still wondering....
Lesson: WE ARE NOT PERCEPTUALLY GOOD ENOUGH UNTIL WE PROVE WE ARE!!! BUT DON'T GET UPSET, JUST HELP POLITELY. THE OLD MAN IS NOW A DIFFERENT MAN. HE'LL APPROACH ANY MAN WHO LOOKS LIKE MEN WITH RESPECT AND ADMIRATION NEXT TIME.
TOLERANCE & INCLUSION
While it is possible for us to racially discriminate or judge people we know, the chances of judging people we know diminish significantly the more we know them. An easy example of the importance of understanding others is the attitude people develop when they want to harm others or when they want to deny them something valuable. Essentially, before you fight someone, you insult them. Insults are attempts at diminishing the value of people, an attempt at estranging them, as Toni Morrison argued in The Origin of Others. It is easy to discriminate against strangers or make others strangers or dehumanized in order to discriminate against them.