I felt really awkward this morning at gym. An older (well, older than me) australian lady was going off in a very judgemental and actually quite aggressive way about muslims in particular (said in a hushed tone), but then it became about anyone being ‘allowed’ to live in Australia, and how they should live according to the australian ways and customs and save any beliefs pertinent to their culture for their homes. Including their language. Apparently a french couple were talking to their french child in earshot of her at a school outing, at which point she felt it her moral right to reprimand them for not speaking to their child in English, the spoken Australian language, if this is the country they have chosen to live in. In amongst the ignorant rant, there actually were some issues definitely worthy of debate in terms of multiculturalism, if it is truly possible, and how to integrate yet respectfully retain one’s own culture in a new country. But there was no nuance with this lady. She was extremely dismissive of immigrants generally. I felt awkward because I am an immigrant. I assume because she was speaking so openly in front of me and attempting to include me in her conversation, that because I look similar to her and speak English, I’m ok. Seriously? I felt awkward because it just wasn’t the place to have this debate yet my silence and refusal to interact in the conversation in anyway may have implied acquiescence. I wish she was an isolated case. Why are people so fearful of difference. Not all people of different faiths or cultures are fundamentalist, extremists, and then, in my opinion, misguided and worthy of fear. Do some people honestly believe, really believe that if someone just looks different to them, speaks a different language to them, believes in a different god to them, or none at all, has less money than them, has more than them, they are not deserving of kindness. Of acceptance. They are not equal? Honestly. Do you?