Monday, October 13, 2008

"He's an Arab!" What Pilgrimage Has to Teach Us About the World

After just being in Israel, talking and listening to old and new friends who are Palestinian, Arab, Muslim, and some who are Christian, I was caught off guard by the questioner at a John McCain rally in which a woman said she wasn't going to vote for Barack Obama because he is an "Arab."

First reaction: no, no, no: he's not an Arab.

Second reaction at the same time: what's bad about being an "Arab?"

On top of this dialogue there was this article in the New York Times (on-line, nyt.com), in which Hindu's are threatening Christian to convert or flee in India. ‘Embrace Hinduism, and your house will not be demolished,’ ” Mr. Digal recalled being told on that Wednesday afternoon in September. “ ‘Otherwise, you will be killed, or you will be thrown out of the village.’ ” Click here for more.

Coming out of 12 days in Israel I am very sensitive to the realities of this world that barely raises it's head in the safe waters of the Research Triangle in Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill, NC: we live in a world in which people simply fear the "Other" simply because of one's religion or faith. The questioner wasn't asking about Mr. Obama being an Arab, but being a Muslim. I don't think that many people in the States can appreciate that you can be an Arab and not be Muslim.

Pilgrimage in different lands as a Christian matters: it teaches one how small the world is!

Salaam and Shalom,

Buen Camino,

Brett