[Image taken from here]
Earlier today, I had to say no to a big favor that somebody asked of me at work, after considering his request for a few days. I can't go into the details here, as I try to keep a certain distance between my blogging and professional lives. But maybe I can try to talk about it a little here in the abstract, and see if we can extract a couple of yogic insights from this little episode.
So, how to talk about this in the abstract? Well, let's just say that this person asked me to do him an official favor that would have significantly boosted his chances of advancing in his career... oh, and in case you're wondering, the favor in question is something that is totally ethical and legal; no shady dealings going on here :-) In other words, he wasn't trying to make me any offer I couldn't refuse.
This was NOT the person who asked me for the favor :-)
[Image taken from here]
From the very beginning, when he first asked me for the favor, at least three red flags came up immediately in my mind, which practically screamed "Nooooo!". These red flags were (in no particular order of importance): (1) Said person's professional qualifications do not merit my doing him the favor in question, objectively speaking, (2) My own area of specialization and his are so far apart that I am, strictly speaking, not in an appropriate position to do him this favor.
I understand that all this is really abstract and vague, but I really don't want to go into the details here. I hope you understand. But personally, the real deal-breaker for me was (3) I'm quite sure he was perfectly aware of (1) and (2). Despite that, he still asked me for the favor. Why? Because he thought that, being of the same race as him (he's also Chinese), I would be more sympathetic and more likely to help him out.
In other words, he was playing the race card. And truth be told, he didn't play this card too badly at all: The main reason why it took me so long to say no was that I could see certain similarities between his position and mine; similarities which initially inclined me to be sympathetic and to say yes. And I guess it also didn't help that I am really a nice mild-mannered Chinese guy living in a state that is somewhat ironically known for its niceness (ever heard of Minnesota Nice?). But given (1) and (2), I knew I simply couldn't say yes in good conscience: I knew that if I did, I would resent and possibly even hate myself for a long time to come. So I said no.
I can't say this strongly enough: I really, really fucking hate it when people try to play the race card with me. Gives me a really, really bad taste in the mouth: The sort of bad taste that no amount of mouthwash will get rid of.
Is there a nicey-nicey yogic moral to this not-so-nice story? I thought there would be, when I first started writing this post... I had in mind some kind of feel-good b.s. about the importance of setting boundaries... also, wasn't there something somebody recently said about Ashtanga being the yoga of no? But now I somehow feel it would be all too easy and glib to be all clever and new-agey smooth, and try to gloss over this matter with all this feel-good b.s. In any case, I'm not in the state of mind for this right now. The bad taste in my mouth is still too raw... Ha! maybe a couple of glasses of red wine might help to wash it out? Who knows? In any case... I think you are probably tired of hearing this rant (another bad blogging day here...). Or maybe it's my ANUS symptoms flaring up again? (see this post for the stinky details about ANUS) In any case, I guess I'll sign off for now. Have fun.