We are Us


The morning sun in Chateau Park was glorious.   

She said, “Westerners are more civilized than Arabs.  Europeans, we are an advanced culture.”

I replied, “The Arab culture is older than ours.” 

“They are nomads and barbarians.”

“Their culture is rich in tradition.”

“They haven’t changed for hundreds of years.”

“Their cities are very modern.”

She waved her hand in the air like an expert and explained to me, “Arabs want to turn us into Muslims.  We should get rid of them.”

I was shocked.  “That’s a violent thing to say.”

“Yes.  They are a violent people.”

“No.  That’s not what I said.”

“They are dangerous.”

“You talk with such hatred.”

“I speak the truth.”

“You’re talking about millions of innocent people.”

“They are not innocent.  They murder our children.” 

I took a breath.  “All cultures have violent people.”

“They execute us without remorse.”

“The USA has violent people.”

“The USA is not as old as Europe.”

“What I mean is, it’s full of Europeans.  Its culture came from Europe.”

She sighed and smiled like I was an ignorant child.

I defended my position about the 2 Western cultures, “Remember Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson.  Remember The Rights of Man.”

“Occidentals do not decapitate innocent people,” she replied.

“Not all Arabs do that.”

“They all applaud when it happens.”

I tried to stay calm.  “Westerners are the ones who invented weapons of mass destruction.”

“We don’t use them,” she said.

“You are wrong.”

She was surprised.  “I’m not wrong.”

“Westerners kill hords of people, targeted by satellite reconnaissance, with drones.”

“We don’t show it on the internet.”

“Everyone has the capacity for violence.”

She smiled, “Our civilization has progressed beyond violence.”

“You are talking about the civilization that directed 2 world wars, about people who have tried to exterminate numerous groups of people.”

“We are good people.  It’s in our genes.”

If strangling her would have opened the mind of this woman, I would have done it, but like all violence, it would not have helped.  I said, “We are not ‘them’ and ‘us.’  We are ‘us.’  We are all full of anger and ready to kill.”

She walked away.

I followed.  “We’re human.  We all are narcissists.  But also we all are able to reflect, empathize, laugh, and hope that human beings don’t focus on differences and power, but on our roots, on our children, on the future and unity.”

She looked over her shoulder at me, and kept walking. 

Talk did not help any more than violence.


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