I think the most charming situation I’ve ever encountered has to do with people trying to outdo each other in politeness!
I mean talk about rivalry! That’s something to strive for!
I went to a school recently, they were having a multicultural festival and I guess I was part of it.
At the beginning, when they were introducing me, my host, a Parent Volunteer, got the kids to say ‘Assalaamu alaikum.’ It means “Peace be on you.”
Of course they mangled it a bit, but gee! The gesture was so cute!!!
I replied to them, “Wa alaikum assalam.” ‘On you be peace too.” and translated for them.
Then during lunch my host told me about a Japanese tradition that apparently the Japanese way of handing someone your card is to do with with both hands, and it’s considered impolite if you take it with only one hand. And before you put it away, you should look at the card. Anything else is rude.
I thought that was so interesting.
The Japanese are kind of known for their politeness and I socked it away as a piece of information to apply if and when dealing with Japanese people.
It didn’t occur to me to wonder if my host was Japanese Canadian.
And then in the rush of leaving, and I gave her my card, I used only one hand. And she said something about ‘two’ and I said, “Oh I don’t do that.” And then I remembered, and I realized what I’d done, and it was almost too late to say anything, even though I should have.
That was a few days ago, and it’s been bugging me ever since.
It’s a little gesture, and it would have meant a lot.
But I’d had no idea she was actually Japanese, I thought she just knew the cultural tradition like she’d known the Muslim greeting. Yes she looked Asian, but I didn’t assume she was. And we were in a ‘Canadian’ setting. But still…
I will get over it.
And I will chalk it up to experience for next time.
It was a small thing, one of those things that happens way faster than I can describe it.
And maybe I’m being hard on myself, my intentions were definitely not to cause any sort of offense. And the biggest thing I learned from the whole incident is how easy it is to inadvertently offend.
I meet a LOT of people who are super polite, and it occurs to me in those exchanges with each other we each are trying to vie for being the most polite.
Not in any sort of bad way, but in a good way.
I put this out there to counter some of the negativity and hate in the world.
We can choose what we focus on.
I like to focus on the positive.
Be aware of the negative, but strive for the positive.
Life’s just a bit more fun that way.