Read this on galpod.com.
It's Yom Kippur today. In Israel, that means no work, no cars or buses on the roads except for emergencies, no TV or radio broadcasting. In Jewish tradition, it's a day of reflection and self-examination. A day in which you think about your behaviour and ask forgiveness from people you've hurt.
Living in Canada and now in London, I had found that sometimes you don't know that you've hurt people. In Israel, if you've hurt someone's feelings, you're going to hear about it. Even if that person didn't tell you themselves (but they most likely would), you would hear about it from a mutual friend. It's possibly a bit more tiring to live that way, with everyone in everybody's business, but there are some advantages. I've discovered that in other places, sometimes you might offend someone and never find out about it, which is terrible to me. How can you learn from your mistakes if no one is pointing them out?
I'm a bit clueless on my best days. I'm an outright space cadet most days, especially if there's a story brewing. And there's almost always a story brewing nowadays. So, it's entirely possible that I've offended someone and didn't even realise it. And this is in addition to the times I offended people, and I know about it. For instance, if my kid doesn't want to invite your kid to their birthday party and you stop talking to me about it, I would realise that you've been offended. And I would apologise (several times, including in writing). But I would not invite someone my kid doesn't want on their birthday party, because it's not my birthday party. The uninvited kid, by the way, is usually totally fine and doesn't mind at all.
But, coming back to my point. Sometimes, if there's an awkward silence, I can tell I've put my foot in my mouth. But if there isn't, I would probably never be able to tell. When I taught a university class, I told the students: if there's an offensive way to interpret what I've said, I definitely meant it the other way. The non-offensive way. Because I can't think of a reason why you should ever be rude. I find manners, not a quaint decoration, but an essential part of interacting with other human beings. It doesn't mean I have to do what everyone else is doing or say what everyone else is saying. But one of the facts of being an immigrant is that you don't conform to the dominant culture. I could try, but I would never be entirely British. So, I choose a compromise. Take what I like from this culture (punctuality, sweet-and-salty popcorn), and leave out what I don't like (never wearing colours, not saying what you think).
Anyways, what I'm saying is, if I've offended you, I probably didn't mean it, and I apologise. And please let me know so that I can learn.
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