There has been a lot of controversy in the media about Activist, Grace Tame, of late. Specifically, whether she should have been more gracious and respectful when she attended morning tea to celebrate the finalists for the 2022 Australian of the Year with Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Bottom line, she didn’t look him in the eye when she shook his hand or smile for the press pics.
Now before I go on, I am not looking for a heated debate on should she or shouldn’t she. I want to draw our attention to how much attention this issue received. It was headline news. It’s something I always find so fascinating. How we humans feel so justified to tell another person, who’s shoes we have never sat in, about how they should or shouldn’t behave. We ‘should’ all over people. We decide others should be doing this or shouldn’t be saying that. We become the ruler of their world.
Nothing she did or said was illegal. Yet so many people were offended, disgusted and appalled. About someone they don’t even know.
What I am interested in is when you saw her handshake and lack of smiling, what questions did you ask, and how many of them, of her and the situation before you drew your sword? Before you became a keyboard warrior or verbally outraged.
Imagine if we put our offence, disgust and disregard into the very issues she was trying to drive change in. Helpless victims of sexual abuse and grooming. Imagine if we wrote articles to parliament about changing the laws, lobbied to educate all Australians for a zero tolerance of sexual abuse, taught men how to behave with women.
When we sit in offence, we are very rarely looking at the real issue any longer. We are in judgement and there lacks a serious amount of curiosity when we become Judge Judy. It’s very hard to gather the real truth in any situation when we think we know how someone ‘should be’.
Curiosity starts with questions. That includes questioning ourselves and the role we are playing in making the world a better place.
I like coming back to the philosophy of ‘people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones’. This is a proverb that appeared in Chaucer’s Troilus and Criseyde, written in 1385. It says that we should not criticise other people for their perceived bad qualities if we have some ourselves. Whilst it’s hard to do, it’s worthwhile aiming for.
So if you have never been upset in another’s company and shown it, if you haven’t smiled when you ‘should’, if you haven’t shown respect at every single stage of your life – then sure. Maybe you can have a crack. But even then, try not to.
I don’t reckon it makes the world a better place. But that’s your call, if you can be honest with yourself. It starts with us, at home, at work, at school. Everywhere. And now.