This is going to seem like an odd kind of gratitude post at first. But it is to do with being grateful, so this is where it belongs.
I was in Sydney during the week for work, and most of the experience was ace. Also, awesome. I was not only productive, but I got to hang out with the woman I am rapidly beginning to think is going to take over the world within the next six months, and of course my dearest Hurricane Henry (more on this later).
One thing really stood out for me in terms of how far we have to go - as Australians, and as a species.
I was walking down Pitt Street to my next meeting and was going across the pedestrian crossing, when a young girl of Asian descent stumbled and accidentally knocked into another - well, I'll use the word Causcasian - girl in her early 20s. She apologised profusely but the 'victim' was having none of it. Next thing, I actually heard the words which I honestly thought were a cliché - 'go back to your own country you effing gook, we're full up'.
I was appalled; not so much by the words, but by the venom behind them. It was real and it was obvious and it was frightening. What was almost more frightening was the other girl's reaction.
Having just come from holidays in South East Asia, where I was treated with kindness and respect and occasionally good-natured laughter at my language abilities, I was scared; both by the fact that someone in their twenties, who has grown up in mulitcultural Australia, not the world of the 50s or even the 70s, had this attitude - and also by the fact that the girl she attacked almost seemed to expect it.
Again, you may be questioning where the gratitude may be in this.
I am grateful that my parents raised me without prejudice. I am grateful for my friends of all nationalities, especially those who put up with me speaking their languages poorly whilst their English is amazing. I am grateful that I am, I would like to think, able to see past race to the person. And I am very, very grateful that despite the way this repulsive girl represented our country, in the main, Australians are seen as good eggs. Because most of us are good people, and I hope would still be horrified by such casual vindictiveness - not accepting of it.
I am also grateful to the young girl, whom I went up to and asked if she was alright.
'Yeah' she said in a very broad Aussie accent.
'I'm used to it. But thank you for asking. It means a lot. In fact, you've made my day'. And she grinned and we both went onwards.
Gratitude works both ways it seems.
Because she made my day too.