Who’s leading whom?

Graffiti Image of a small pink character under a 'pedestrians watch your step' street sign

I met a refugee the other day. They had been in Australia for a very short time, if they went home their life was in danger.

When we hear the word ‘refugee’ a certain picture emerges. The less we have had to do with refugees the more clichéd that image. Perhaps we see boats and desperate people, maybe we imagine war torn, displaced people, uneducated and poverty stricken…

All this may, at times, be true. But when we see refugees only in this light we don’t see them as a group who have anything to offer us, we see them as people who we must take pity upon (or not), someone helpless to be rescued (if we should so choose…).

This is the case for a lot of groups who don’t fit the image of ‘majority’ in our communities. Indigenous people, people from different cultures, perhaps even women (who are, I believe, a majority but strangely still get treated at times like they are not…)

And honestly I’m a bit stuck in the middle of all this. I’m white and male. I get all the hidden benefits (that can be easy to assume are universal to everyone) without even noticing them.

It all got me to thinking. What are we missing out on? And more importantly, how do we shift a paradigm like this?

Well, how about setting up a mentorship program where people from diverse backgrounds mentor those who sit comfortably amidst the ‘mainstream’?

The most powerful way you can demonstrate you believe someone has value is by asking if they would share some of what they have with you.

The refugee I met was a lawyer who had experiences in the world that I was humbled by. I think Australians would be very lucky if refugees were prepared to share what they know about the world with us.

For a while I have been looking for a mentor who is a successful artist and identifies as an Indigenous Australian (if you know someone who might be interested…I’d love an introduction). I think more people could benefit from approaching mentors who have different backgrounds and life experiences than they have themselves.

What do you think?

Artist, advisor, coach.
I find the real problem, make the difficult easy
and tell a great story.

Check out more stories in the category: Big Ideas, In the Village