Friday, September 22, 2006

Unexpected lessons

Last night as I was going home from "Back to school" night, I had an interesting conversation; a lesson in humanity. I stopped at the corner to wait for the light to change so I could walk in the crosswalk. Another woman was standing nearby. She turned to me and asked, "What grade is your son in?". Her accent was very thick and difficult to understand. I answered her and politely asked the same of her. I normally talk to strangers, but I was a little surprised she talked to me because my body language certainly did not give off cues that I wanted to get in a conversation. The light changed and we started across the street. I was feeling a little more friendly by this point, so commented on how dark it gets so early in the evening now. As we reached the other corner, what she had been dying to say to someone came spilling out.

She told me that she had gone to meet her son's history teacher. He was discussing what curriculum they would cover during the school year. He mentioned the Romans, and several other historical civilizations. Then he said, "I know many parents won't like this, but we will be discussing the Muslim terrorists.". This woman stopped recounting her story, turned to me and said, "I'm Muslim, I"m a good Muslim". I casually said, "You aren't one of those bad Muslims". She said, "I don't even consider them Muslim! Muslim doesn't teach people to behave that way!". She told me how embarrassed she felt sitting there in that class room, and wondered if any of the parents were looking at her. I always picture Muslims as being dressed with veils, and she wasn't, so I doubt anyone even knew she was Muslim.

She expressed to me that this was the second time that this teacher had brought up the subject, and that the first time her son had come home feeling very embarassed. I told her she should write an email to the teacher and explain her feelings to him.

I relate to what she said. I'm Mormon, and have found many misconceptions about my beliefs as well. I've even seen Churches teach false things about my beliefs. That always surprises me the most because these are churches who claim to be Christlike, but who are teaching untruths. When people from other religions come by my door, they often give me pamphlets designed especially for people of my faith. I have been shocked as I read them to see how many untruths are contained in them. Do you know how much money my Church spends each year to combat other churches? None,,.....zilch. If a religion is secure in their own beliefs, they have no need to tear down others. They can stand on their own merit, and their followers will follow because they believe, not because they have been swayed against other religions by false information. But digression has taken me away from my story.

I told the woman that in my opinion the teacher should refer to the guilty parties as "Terrorists", not "Muslim Terrorists". He at least should explain that most Muslims do not believe their teachings and feel the terrorists aren't living their religion. She was clearly upset, and I felt sorry for her and could identify with the social misunderstanding she has experienced. I feel a little bad that I wasn't more friendly in the beginning. She needed someone to confirm to her that not all Americans look at her as an enemy. Pure chance put me in her path, but I'm glad that it was me that got the chance to learn the lesson.

1 comment:

Axlle said...

First, I'd like to say that although many Muslims we're the veil, it a sign of deep faith and isn't taken into lightly. (I really hope I have the right religion here, if not, I'm sorry.) Second, every religion now days has at least one untruth or missconception, it's something that just happens over the years. Third, the only people who truly believe that all Muslims are terrorists have been completely brainwashed over the years though many churches, governments, and misconceptions.