I've worked in retail, on and off, for most of my life and it is a very culturally diverse profession. This is because at the bottom rung it is very lowly paid and often has ridiculous working hours. In addition, often the only skills that are needed are a smiling face and the ability to work hard and pick up new skills. Consequently, it's a trade that is open to a lot of people - either on the shop floor or behind it.
Recently, I've been working with a Russian, a Chinese, an Algerian, a naturalised British man originally from Hong Kong, another one on a visa from Hong Kong, a naturalised UK Indian whose parents still live in India, a half-Japanese naturalised British man, a Moroccan, a half Austrian and half Brazialian......and so on. There are a few more nationalities but I can't remember where they're from and, in all honesty, I'm not really bothered. Now, as you can imagine, with such an eclectic range of colleagues there's quite a range of religious and cultural beliefs too - as well as sexual orientations. In short, on the surface, we're quite a different bunch.
As a writer (and because I am essentially nosey) I love to hear about people's lives so when I have the opportunity to listen to my colleagues' back stories I always take it. I've learnt that some are here to pursue economic prosperity but others have come for a variety of other reasons such as education, relationships, politics and so on.
Now the world is a pretty crap place at the moment with a lot of political tensions, especially over immigration, refugees, and terrorism. Since the UK has voted out of the EU, I'm not going to get into a potentially explosive debate about whether or not some of my colleagues should be here or, if and when, they should return to their own countries. What I will say is - I like them all and I've found it to be true over the course of my working life that when you work closely with people you see past cultural differences and accept them for who they are rather than dwell on where they came from. When you know someone on a personal level all that matters is kindness, honesty, integrity and empathy.
Sometimes, I think the world would be a much a better place if we remembered the human traits we all share - and the things that unite us rather than divide us. I'm not saying sometimes tough decisions should never be made - especially in times when they clearly need to be - but it would be good if as a global community we don't forget our humanity and remember that underneath we are all the same. That kindness is a virtue, not a vice.
To this extent, I think it would be good to round-up all our political leaders and send them back to kindergarten. Maybe they would learn something.