Almost as a continuation of my thoughts yesterday, I had a conversation that expanded my world more. Keeping up with my weekly fasting, I fasted Monday and rested mentally. I didn’t feel like cooking to break my fast, so I went to a new Greek restaurant on Franklin St. called Grk Yeero. Spontaneously, I started up a conversation with the guy at the counter and it changed me.
I started off the conversation about me deciding to break my fast and he said he was fasting also. He told me he was fasting for 20 days to cleanse his body for 15 hours daily, once a day. I didn’t want to make any assumptions so I asked him why was he fasting. I originally expected the gentleman to be Greek but he later explained to me that he was from Jordan and was Muslim. From there, the conversation flowed like water.
I explained to him that I was fasting to get closer to God and remove distractions. I talked about how I have had close Muslim friends throughout my life and really appreciated their dedication to God. He told me how much he appreciates that and is happy being in a college town that is more open to different types of people. He told me that he is getting married in two months to an American girl and how hard it was.
His fiancé’s family had a real problem with her marrying a Muslim man. He explained to me how ISIS has made it so much harder from him to function and find people who except him. He made sure to stress to me that ISIS isn’t Islam and that he doesn’t even know what to call it.
I countered similarly by saying that I understand those feelings. I commented on how religious extremism on all sides has taken the word of God (whatever you call Him) and weaponized it. I told him how ashamed I was to have Christian extremists in the government and in communities that twist doctrine into knots while ignoring the charge to protect the weak and less fortunate.
We talked for easily thirty minutes about life abroad, schools, programs, and even how race is viewed in Jordan/the Middle East. It was a humbling experience to just hear someone’s perspective and the feeling of powerlessness about extremist views in something you hold so dearly. We touched on Ramadan and how hard it is working at a restaurant when you are fasting. We laughed, shook hands, and I promised to try to have another conversation soon.
As I walked back home, I reflected on how alike we were from completely different backgrounds. I thought about how strange it is that for some reason, people so fundamentally similar are vilified without people understanding. I questioned personally how people can hate without knowing. I somewhat understand a level of caution but fear blew my mind. I walked in looking for a sandwich and left with a potential friend. Why is this such a hard thing to do with everyone? Why is hate made easy when conversations can solve so much? I just wish we would love more. He was still my brother. My brother deserves love not hate.
Turn Your Brightness Up!