Friend or Foe?

Today, I was walking through the park, and I noticed someone that I immediately tried to avoid. I didn’t know him. He had a baggy jacket, a hoody and looked unkept. From the back, he could have been Jesse from Breaking Bad. This gave me pause for thought – I love Jesse’s character. Could you meet a kinder, soft-hearted guy? I’d seen this man in the park, and written him off as a druggie and someone to avoid, but perhaps I was being unfair.

I began to reflect more on Breaking Bad. I’d only just finished the last series as I was a very late arrival to the T.V. show. Walter White starts off as someone who would be totally accepted by society – a teacher with a nice house, someone you would smile and not to on the street. Yet, it’s Jesse, the hopeless druggiehoodie who the audience finally empathise with.  We follow his path, and despite everything he does wrong, we feel sorry for him.  We know he wants to follow a good path, if only life would let him. Whatever he does, he does with his heart and is genuine throughout.

I suppose what I’m saying is that if we are given the chance to walk in someone else’s shoes, or at least given the opportunity to really get to know a person, perhaps we would realise that they’re not a rapist/ thief/ terrorist/the list goes on, that we presuppose they are.

Prejudice is rampant in our society –we are immediately judged by the clothes they wear, the colour of our skin, where we live, the gender we are, our sexual preferences, the disability we have, where we like to shop. There are segmented groups that try to combat this, to speak up for minorities, for women, for gay rights but actually, what we really need to say is “give everyone a chance.” They could be a moron, they could be cold-hearted but equally, they could be the kindest, most lovely person you could meet. Who knows, they could even be your new best friend.

With the Brexit vote and the American elections, what has become apparent is there are a lot of people who are unhappy with the state of the nation. People like Nigel Farage and Donald Trump have preyed on anger and fear, and scape-goated minorities, be it Mexicans, Muslims, or immigrants in general and that is not OK. We cannot blame groups of people for our problems. Yes, there are some awful people in the world, but I like to think that it is an incredibly tiny minority. Then there are another groups of people in the world, the Jesse’s, who have somehow ended up on the wrong track with the wrong people, but deep down are decent people. Finally, there are the rest, the boring majority, who follow the system and hope that one day, our government will get it right.

So don’t let a few people desperate for power, tell you who to like. Arm yourself with information, get to know everyone. Smile at strangers on the street no matter who they are, and rather than assume everyone is bad, do the opposite. Believe that everyone is a friend you haven’t yet met, and slowly, we can start undoing the harm and hatred that our leaders are causing.   

 

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