A Plea for Peace, Love and Understanding

There isn’t a day that goes by that I am not reminded that I am foreign. Koreans tactlessly stare, giggle and point at me. But these are the Koreans who have no experience with foreigners. I am what they hear about from other people or what they see on TV. On good encounters they respond to me like a movie star, on bad they look at me like one would Bigfoot or the guy that murdered their father. One time in a small country town, an old woman literally leapt off the ground and slapped her friend so she could take a look.
Jama Masjid, Delhi, India(name means’World-reflecting Mosque’)
It is a bit scary what Koreans learn in school. They learned in school textbooks that Englishmen are gentlemen. A poster in my old school had an African wearing a loincloth and holding a spear. I have heard from students that Southeast Asians are poor and dirty and that the Japanese are evil. In this cut-off country, you can find one generalization after the other.

I use to think that only Koreans could brush a broad stroke over a whole nationality or religion given their cut-off society. Unfortunately I was wrong. But it was still a surprise to find out that a majority of Americans oppose the “Ground Zero Mosque”  Muslim Community Center in Manhattan. I thought our history, schools and leaders would have taught us better than that. Instead we continue to fear the unknown, fail to ask questions and have leaders who don’t show a backbone because they are too worried about getting reelected.

Jama Masjid, Delhi, India
The only way I can relate is by imagining a Korea where our International Centers met opposition for the occasional stupid acts(and there are some: see belligerent foreign drunks) by foreigners. About a million people punished because of the stupid few. To me, this is just like Americans rounding Muslims up to their most extreme. Maybe the only way to understand the lunacy in doing this is traveling outside of your bubble and being the minority somewhere. Not everyone looks at white American Christians as harmlessly as your neighbor down the street.

Remember nineteen Muslims took down the World Trade Towers out of 1.6 billion followers. Islam didn’t take those Towers down. If you read the Quran and try to understand Islam you’ll find that your spiritual beliefs aren’t so different. But above all put peace, love and understanding to the forefront of your mind, then maybe you’ll find that despite all of our differences we are all just people living out our short time on Earth.

Or as Lindsay put it in a note to our son: “Just remember, extremists should never define a people, a nation nor a religion. Whether you are a Christian or Muslim or Buddhist or Jewish; white, black or green; American; Canadian or Korean; you should always just practice love and respect. Plain and simple.”

2 thoughts on “A Plea for Peace, Love and Understanding

  1. Adam and Nicole says:

    Just passing through Malaysia and Adam and I have encountered similar feelings. While watching CNN and the controversy on the building of the mosque…yet seeing all people come together in one community and coexisting naturally and peacefully…
    Americans could learn something from the way other countries live in peace and respect.
    As for New York, they should know more than anyone, America is a place where people come for freedom away from the extremists and tough laws and ways of life in their own country. Depriving people of a place to worship on grounds of ignorance is just plain wrong.
    Sorry, got off on a tangent!
    Miss you guys!!!

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