On my recent trip to Milwaukee a couple of weeks ago, I was sitting next to a woman on the train - we were about 2 hours or less from Chicago and we started chatting. The conversation started innocently enough and then turned a direction that I never would have expected. Here is my FB post in case you missed it:
"Woman sitting next to me just wondered if I was afraid to live in Dearborn because of "those" people living there. I answered that yes, living with many insecure white men who could buy a gun easily scares me tremendously but it doesn't stop me from going to work in Detroit or shopping in Dearborn. Conversation has now ceased.
I bet if she could find another seat she would move."
Being on the train with this woman today really made me wonder about people - it made me think about "people being people". My friend, Ahmad said something that he is right about. That it doesn't make it better or right.
I know that there are a lot of people who don't know any one from outside of their home communities, much less people who know persons from overseas. Perhaps living in Detroit growing up, living in Dearborn as an adult, and living out of the country for a number of years has shaped my way of thinking and acting more than I realized. I certainly can't remember a time when I thought I hated people because of race or religion or politics. If I hate (I do try not to hate because that's a lot of negative energy that I don't need to waste my time with) or dislike someone it's usually because they are closed minded, bigoted, or an ass.
I had the opportunity to tell this woman today about the great people that I have met through my life and could not. But she closed off before I could.
I wish that I could have told her of the doctors that I work with that I would trust with my life. I wish I could tell her about the places that I have seen and the joy when you can say thank you in someone's native language, even if that's the only word that you know in that language.
I wish that I could tell her that we all came from some other place and that we are talking together because we are supposed to, that an immigrant from the 1880's is no better or worse than one from 2008. That my religious beliefs are no better or worse than her beliefs, or any other beliefs.
But I couldn't. Maybe I should have just talked even if she didn't want to hear.
But, it might have gotten through. Maybe. Hopefully.