Our boys became best friends in elementary school ushering in lasting family bonds. Since those early years, my family has moved to two different states. Yet our friendship remains strong. Our boys have celebrated high school graduations with each other. Our families have vacationed together. I think you get the picture. This is my friend. I value this gift in my life. I have learned so much from Rama and his wife. And I'm thrilled he's here with us today to share his story.
Before we begin, I'd like to dispel a myth about immigrants. When the word immigrant comes to mind, do you think of an impoverished, down-on-their luck foreigner, from a lower, socioeconomic class than yourself? Most people do. The ones that immediately pop into our minds are the ones most often fleeing for their lives from oppression, abject poverty, or extreme violence. I admit that I used to think that way before I met people who dispelled this myth.
Immigrants to our country come from all socioeconomic backgrounds. Many come here on a work visa and love it so much they apply to be a permanent resident. Others come as international students who end up applying for work visas after graduating from a U.S. university and make a successful life for themselves here.
According to a migrationpolicy.org article, "Indian immigrants have much higher educational attainment compared to the foreign- and U.S.-born populations. In 2015, 77 percent of Indian adults had a bachelor’s degree or higher, compared to just 29 percent of all immigrants and 31 percent of native-born adults. Notably, among college-educated Indian immigrants, more than half had an advanced degree." Did you know that "2.4 million Indian immigrants reside in the United States as of 2015. This makes the foreign born from India the second-largest immigrant group after Mexicans, accounting for almost 6 percent of the 43.3 million foreign-born population."
So why am I talking with Rama? Admittedly, he doesn't feel marginalized and this is a podcast about those living on the margins of society. But if you consider the margins to include minority populations, he would fit that category. To be honest, I never considered him marginalized. I only ever thought of him as a friend. I had to ask him if he ever experienced discrimination. His answer might surprise you, it did me.
Rama's perspective reminds us that not everyone is affected by discrimination the same. It's important to remember and respect that each person experiences discrimination differently. I really appreciate how Rama chooses to give people the benefit of the doubt when a comment or gesture thrown at him could be taken as offensive. He chooses not to take it that way and offers kindness and understanding in return. I wish for that strength of love for my fellow human. But he also recognizes discrimination as legitimate and serious when the comment, offense, or action happens repeatedly.
I was so convicted about our call to greater self-reflection - that is always a good thing.I also really like his reference to how we tend to live in our own bubbles unless we seek each other out and ask about their opinions and experiences. I love his call for us to break open our bubbles and learn to integrate and appreciate each other.
My conversation with Rama reminded me of something Eckhart Tolle says, "Non-reaction is not a weakness but a strength. Another word for it is forgiveness. To forgive is to overlook or look through. You look through the ego to the sanity that is in every human being as his/her essence." I see this strength in Rama. May we all find opportunities to show this kind of forgiveness in our lives.
1. "In is the only way out." -Sadhguru
2. "Begin with the end in mind." - Franklin Covey