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I went to see the new David Brent film last week.  I wasn’t sure about whether to go.  I can remember the first time I saw David Brent’s face on the tv screen all those years ago.  I felt perplexed.  I didn’t understand what was going on.  Was it real?  Even though I learned to understand what the programme was about I could never shake the discomfort I felt watching it.

Despite that  I loved the film.  At points I was crying with laughter.  At points I felt the familiar excruciating embarrassment.  I hid my face with my hands,  hopeful that this would get me out of the room.  Most surprisingly of all I found myself feeling sorry for him.  The film brilliantly started with me finding David Brent to be a horrible little man and finished with me seeing that he was just like me really.  Just like all of us.

I wanted the blog today to be one where I just said, you know what, we’re all different.  Different sexes, different colours, different ages, different nationalities, different outlooks, some of us don’t like cats, some of us love them.  Some of us smoke, some of us drink, some of us like Justin Bieber.  But we are all just human.  One day you might hate me, in a different light, on a different topic, on a happy day you might love me!  Give me a chance.  Try not to judge me.  Try to keep an open mind.  Try to like me.

I’ve been terribly distressed recently to hear overt racism.  Some people aren’t at all concerned about saying extremely obnoxious things about the colour of people’s skin or different facial characteristics.  Or just the fact that they speak a different language.  I question why I see things so differently and find these comments so offensive.  Is it a generational thing?  Is it an educational thing?  Is it that I’m well travelled?  Is it that I worked in a very diverse organisation for so long, an organisation that challenged these views and expected us to challenge them?  I know I was no different when I joined the organisation but what being part of it meant is that it was ok to challenge the behaviour although in the main the behaviour just didn’t happen.  Thus my shock at some of the frankly disgusting and bigoted things I’m now hearing.  I guess I didn’t know there were people who spoke like this anymore.  Naive?  Sadly.

I challenged a particularly nasty comment recently that I found hideous, unfunny and utterly disrespectful.  I explained that I personally found the “joke” offensive.  I don’t expect to have to listen to such bullshit.  I was so angry about it that I couldn’t not say anything.  I was also shocked by the person who said it and had thought better of them.  Their reaction was educational to me. They thanked me for telling them.  They were shocked themselves that they had said it as they felt they were not racist.  They felt the world they lived in was becoming more racist and perhaps it was feeling more acceptable to say these things.  To be part of the gang.

Not my gang!

Racism is about fear and ignorance.  If you don’t like someone that’s fine.  I don’t like plenty of people.  They have earned my dislike.  But don’t hate someone because of the way they were born.  How pathetic.  Hating someone for something they can’t help is like hating me because I have blue eyes.  How helpless am I to deal with that?  How unfair!  What can I do about that?  What difference does it actually make to my personality?

I don’t understand why it’s becoming OK to say it but then I don’t understand people that think it!  Challenge yourself if you’re thinking it.  Is it because the people around you are saying it?  Is it because the Daily Mail’s fear inducing headlines are making you believe that everyone is out to get you? Does it make sense?  How would you feel if a stranger was thinking or saying these things about you?

In The Year of Living Danishly, the book I’m reading at the moment, the author has found out that one of the reasons Denmark ranks at number one in the happiness stakes revolves around trust.  When you trust people  you feel more secure and therefore happier.  Danes don’t lock their bikes.

So this week I leaned that though I hate David Brent I also like him, I am him.  It’s right to challenge racism, actually helpful.  Happiness starts with trust.