Scene: I was at a dinner party in Melbourne. A guy came up to me and said, “it’s good there is no racism in America now. I mean they even have a black President, right?”
And no, sadly he hadn’t even had one drop to drink. 🙂
Admittedly I think things have come a long way since the Civil Rights marches. Yet when he made the statement the first thing I thought of were the salt flats in Utah. I was on a tour there once not too long ago to see the wonders of Salt Lake City. Our group was making its way up a steep embankment of slippery sand in order to make our way from the water back up to where our bus was parked.
Once I got up the slope, I turned around and noticed a young man struggling to get his footing. I went back down and stretched out my arm so he could grab on in order to lift himself up. When he looked up at me he seemed astonished. “Really? Thanks,” he said. It made me feel incredibly sad. It was obvious this young man had never before been offered assistance. He was used to having to struggle on his own, of no one caring enough to notice, let alone offer a little help, so that we could both be on equal footing.
Scene: Watching the nightly news they featured a mosque with an Iman whipping the congregants into a frenzy not with religious fervor but with bias against a people most have probably never met and know little of aside from the rhetoric that is passed down from one generation to the next. We’ve all seen the scene a million times to the point it is little more than a stereotype now.
Now what is interesting is that the very same mosque was featured in a travel documentary on another station. A Westerner marveling at the unity of the ancient mosaics which adorn the walls and ceilings. In them are no vanity since all pictorials are purely geometric. No colors or shapes overshadow their neighbors. It is in essence a microcosm of heaven itself.
Yet that same Westerner can’t resist yet another tiresome argument that the veils of the women are a sad symbol of oppression. It seems an odd stance when once considers the Amish who wear bonnets in modesty, Catholics and Orthodox Christians who wear veils to Church and Jewish women who often wear head scarves throughout the day just as Muslim women do. Symbols of faith and modesty are rarely symbols of oppression to most.
Yet with both parties, the Westerner and the Imam, clearly in the wrong, there is still hope. Centuries later, the true meaning of peace and understanding is still right above their heads desperate to be seen, understood and headed despite the noise of rhetoric to a divided congregation where women are shifted to the back of the room and the Westerner stares into the camera ignoring its clouded lens.