Katie doesn’t have any experience with this topic—that’s why she’s opening up to all of you in hopes of learning more!
Platinum Is The New Gold
Several years ago, I was traveling with a friend and had some free time between changing buses. We decided to try and find a coffee shop. Luggage in hand, we started walking aimlessly around a small town outside of D.C. It was also very early in the morning and we were close to the only ones around. Finally, a man in a suit was walking towards his car carrying takeout coffees. My friend tried to wave at him and we were ignored. My friend then tried to get his attention by saying, "Excuse me sir..." He shot a glance at us and said, "I got nothin' for ya, man." I admittedly was confused for a second. I could tell my friend was embarrassed. I didn't think we looked like we were asking for money. I thought we looked like we were traveling. I guess it depends on perspective. My friend replied with, "We were just asking where you got the coffee." The man pointed us in the direction and we parted ways. I often times thought about how that man felt. Then, I found myself on the other side of the situation.
Two years ago, I was the first one to a new job site location and the doors hadn't been unlocked yet. I was standing outside and someone approached me. At first, I couldn't understand what he was saying and yes, thought he was asking me for money. I had already made assumptions based on how this person was dressed. I ignored him. Flat out ignored him. I didn't ask him to repeat his question or anything. We stared at each other for a couple of seconds and then he asked me his question again. "Are the doors not unlocked, yet?" He worked there. With me. Actually, I would be working for him. I responded with a flustered, "Oh, uh, no, not yet. I'm waiting, too." He left and came back a few minutes later with donuts. The rest of the day I wanted to apologize and do the morning over. I completely judged this man based on how he was dressed and was willing to ignore another human being to his face. Who the hell do I think I am? This left me with two thoughts on the forefront and several on the back-burner.
If we're honest, how many times have we judged someone over something as trite as their clothes? It's in our nature to have bias and preference but for me to literally think someone was going to ask me for money based on their clothes is just ridiculous. I am trying to become more aware of this. When I hear these types of comments from others, I try to acknowledge and discuss. I am thankful to have many people around me who also call this behavior out in themselves, in me, and in others. It's amazing how many incredible people you meet and incredible experiences you can have when we let go of the rudimentary crap that is either taught to us or instilled in us.
Now, let's pretend I was actually asked for money. Still - I ignored, to their face, a person in need asking for help. Whether or not I was in a position to help, ignoring someone to their face is just rude. I think about the times I have asked for help from strangers. 9 times out of 10 when I ask for help, I might be denied but not ignored.
Friends, this is all privilege.
I honestly wonder what happened to The Golden Rule? I researched other peoples thoughts on The Golden Rule and came across something interesting. The Golden Rule is taught to us as, "treat others as you'd like to be treated." But have you heard of The Platinum Rule? -- "Treat others as THEY'D like to be treated." I had never heard of this notion before. I really responded to it and had to think about it for a while. How can we treat others the way they want to be treated if we ignore them and don't get to know them? How can we be open to treating someone the way they want to be treated if we have preconceived notions about who we think they are? I am not saying that I'm here to solve homelessness and poverty (even though I have thoughts and would gladly have that conversation.) I am saying that I'm here to at least start the conversation and process of reevaluating ourselves FIRST before we extend our help to others.
As a child, I would beg Mom to always give to people with signs asking for money or food. I did have empathy and genuinely wanted to help. I still do. But, when I saw how quick I was to still have judgements, I knew that I wasn't in an honest place to help. Again, this is an example of privilege; thinking I know and have the answers to help when I haven't even spent a second getting to know those I want to help or even asking what would help. I am trying to use this new perspective in various ways. Platinum is the new golden in my book.