Saturday, June 11, 2011

Conversations, Part I

Right now, I'm sitting on my sofa, listening to Ray compose some music. Some birds are singing outside my window. I'm relaxing after cleaning my house, browsing facebook, and having a conversation on chat. A normal Saturday afternoon...kind of.

The person I'm chatting with is a Middle Eastern man. I've asked him the same question that I've been starting to ask a few of my friends here: "What do you think America needs to know about the Middle East and Muslims?"

The answer is always pretty much the same, and this particular man (I'll call him Amir) put it quite succinctly:
"Islam does not promote, sponsor, condone or encourage terrorism or murder."

I asked another person (I'll call him Ahmed) this same question, and though he gave a similar answer, it took a while for him to give it. He said answering that question was useless, that there was no point in trying to make the West believe anything good of the East. I hassled him just a little, in a nice way. In addition to what Amir said, Ahmed answered, "We are not terrorists...we f---ing hate the muslim terrorists." Following this was a long release of frustration about how his part of the world, his religion, his culture, and himself were discriminated against. World events are taken personally, though he himself never personally offended anyone from the other side of the world.

From the answers to my question, I've been picking up on the same root. When I look a little deeper, I see that my friends, students, neighbors seem to echo the same response: "I didn't do anything wrong. Why am I being punished for something I didn't do?" 

I don't know what it was exactly that made me begin asking my question, and I don't exactly know what to do with the answers except to just listen. I hope that by asking and listening some understanding or compassion might steal its way into places it didn't exist before.  

1 comment:

  1. I think a lot of the misunderstanding and hatred stems from the basic human weakness to be more willing to believe an easy lie than understand a hard truth. I try not to be cynical, but it seems to me that far too many people are intellectually lazy, too lazy to seek knowledge and common ground. I've written some posts on this subject, and I can say that trying to promote understanding doesn't seem to be as popular as it should be.

    BTW, thank you for the comment on my Rabbit Becomes a Jaguar post. I'm very pleased to have your eyes on the page.