Sometimes it is hard to know what is real. Maybe that's true most of the time. My reality at HPAC, at least as I know it, is maybe not what others perceive. And I'm not sure which is right, which is a little disorienting.
Yesterday there was an issue that brought to light the possibility of discrimination between the foreign and Japanese members at HPAC. I had not been offended, but others were very upset about it, citing other instances where exclusive behavior based on race had been exercised. I had not been aware of these instances, nor of the comments some of the foreigners said had supposedly been said about them behind their backs–comments generalizing their behavior and ability.
These allegations rolled off of me in my incorrigible aloofness. I had not been aware of these issues, if they did exist. I wasn't angry about the issue, though I agreed that what had happened was not good practice for morale and should be addressed. I really enjoy my Japanese colleagues and have always found them to be very helpful and interested in reaching out to me, in many regards. Generally there is a division that falls with language and cultural comfort, but it would never occur to me that I should be invited to a dinner where most of the members would be Japanese. We are friends, but our conversations can only take our relationship so far. It's much easier to intimately relate to those with whom you can speak. Albeit, I value many of my non-speaking or partially-speaking relationships just as much as speaking ones for the unique way that they allow me to interact with another person. But they are not the same and don't hold the same social position in my life.
But these allegations hurt. They were not directed at me, just relayed to me. The thought that my colleagues might feel a certain way about one another, that they might congregate and say negative things about one another in a general way, that they would exercise such a sentiment. It seemed both strange and extremely disillusioning.
Perhaps I am naive to think that people sincerely mean well. Perhaps it is naive to think that these transgressions in judgement, that these generalized comments made within groups about other groups, that these actions and words, are less a fault of character than a mistake, a lack of awareness, a lack of communication. Perhaps it is naive to think that there is less malice behind it, than ignorance and lack of foresight.
I've been called "nice" and I'm not sure in what way. But it seems that at this juncture I have an option. And I wonder if what I choose to be my reality doesn't in some way effect what is real.