We're seeking relationship before representation

Relationship before representation

We’re not tooting our representation horn, not because it’s not important, but because we think relationship has a nicer ring to it - here’s why.

When there’s so much going on, how do we filter out the noise so that we can focus on what really matters? Representation is a word that we’ve heard a lot recently, especially in media and within the western Asian community, but the song no longer has a single tune. The chasm between cultural barriers and qualifications has begun to dilute our ability to discern if someone is deserving of a particular position. Doubt begins to manifest and often evolves into a path of finding reasons to justify, defend and clarify our position when there are so many other attainable measures that could help us fill the void of wanting to be accepted. It continually demands a rigorous amount of energy and forces us to direct, speak or move just to get a bit of short term attention. There are so many different elements and layers to representation, so much so that we’re not sure it’s something worth pursuing - that is, at least not before relationship. 

So, why the emphasis on relationship and how can it help us satisfy our desire to feel connection, intimacy and understanding? What’s left when we strip away our work, culture, gender or anything else that we use to represent ourselves? It’s our humanity. It’s the qualities that make us human, to love and have compassion towards each other. True relationship - we’re not talking about the kind that allows you to climb the social ladder or increase your popularity - is a connection that doesn’t consider your credentials, gender or culture. It doesn’t require you to prove your worth or yourself in order to exist and grow. Instead it has a much simpler idea; one that is unconditional, lasting and personal.

There are so many great initiatives emerging in the western Asian community, but aren’t we all singing different versions of the same tune? How many more voices do we need in this choir for us to personally experience change and be completely satisfied with what we see in media, society and the workplace? And once we do achieve full representation, then what happens? Admittedly, seeing people who look like us on the big screen, in top leadership positions and on the cover of Time Magazine does inspire us to achieve dreams, goals and passions, but isn’t this only momentarily before we realise we’re not hearing our own story? Let’s hit play on that relationship button, starting with the person sitting across the aisle from you, or the one living next door. Acknowledge and smile at them and bring their presence into existence. When they don’t understand your culture, see it as an opportunity to respectfully enlighten and ask about theirs in return. Mull over the idea that you’re both just humans in the world, with a desire to understand each other, feel valued and connected.