September 12th, 2008

violence and how we get this way

I hung out with my friend Nao for the second time yesterday evening. We had some seriously lost in translation moments, as my after-work speedy English and his understandable lack of listening skills created all sorts of time-wasting explanations on my part. Not to mention a lack of communication about the meet up place. I was waiting all day for a message confirming were going to meet up and he just assumed we were. We ended up meeting in Ginza after 10pm when most places are closing. Frustrating for me, mostly just because he himself was frustrated and thought I should have written HIM again. Totally not intentional. Complete communication fuck up. Sorry about that Nao.

But, the reason Im writing, really, is not to vent my frustrations over language barriers...we got over that finally.

over dinner, he told me a story of his trip to Australia. I couldn't get it out of my head all night. I've never known anyone directly who was the victim of a hate crime. I hear about it on TV or read it in the paper. It angers me. I always feel like I want to do something, but I don't know what. And then, like a normal Earth citizen, I put it out of my head.

Well, the short story goes something like this. Nao, who in my opinion, is rather passive and non-belligerent in passing, is walking back from a store. He hears some people running up behind him, but pays no attention because he's a tourist and assumes it has nothing to do with him. A few moments later, his jaw is taking the brunt of several cricket bat blows to the face coupled with some friendly sort of fuck-you banter. Yeah, the joys of travel. He showed me his fake teeth all wired together. I didn't notice that before. He asks me why I think people do this. I left the question hanging above the table before plucking it up and setting it aside. The truth is, I have no idea. I dont know much about the history between Australia and the Japanese, and my gut instinct was that anyone looking a little bit non-white at that very moment was going to enjoy the same fate. A little bit of "in the wrong place at the wrong time" going on.

But how does a human get to THAT point? Where some sort of anger or deprivation causes reason to dissolve entirely and the limbic system to make unadulterated decisions. I understand violence in war stricken countries. Eye for an eye for killing my sister kinda thing. Not that I think is nice, mind you, but I get it. But hate crimes come from within. From years of getting beaten down somehow by others or yourself. This is just my theory. Perhaps mix this with some general ignorance, weakness, and psychosis and you got yourself a frothy hate cocktail. Shaken or stirred, waiting to overflow.

Like I said, we hear about hate crimes all the time, but to look at my friend and have him tell me that it happened to him. Wow. I dunno. It just touched a nerve. I'm still mulling over it now.

Interestingly enough, the conversation turned toward how he later had an Australian girlfriend and if I thought Australian accents were sexy. (My first thought was - you obviously dont think USA accents are sexy after the trouble earlier tonight! LOL) I answered that it didn't matter one way or another. In the past few years, any sexiness in accents has completely disappeared. Im more concerned that people have something to say that makes sense and I can understand over the fluff in how they say it. But the point here is, it seems even with that experience, he still thinks something about Australia is sexy. LOL. I wonder if I would have any of that same feeling about any country if one of their citizens kicked the shit out of me. I think some other kinds of negative and awful emotions would swim to the surface. So perhaps he is less a victim than I thought.
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