So, we had this Uber driver on the way to the airport yesterday. He was all about dialogue and changing the terms of the conversation – such as calling terrorism what it is – murder – which helps in aligning everything we’ve called terrorism abroad with not only our own actions as a flag, but also our domestic “terror” as well (all the way back to Timothy McVeigh).
It’s murder. Plain and simple. Terrorism is a term manufactured to divide us.
We talked about the injustice of how he is profiled as a Muslim (he has American citizenship), and how his submission to avoid uninvited conflict during a traffic stop is a form of slavery.
It was a heavy discussion that centered on our oneness and making a difference by changing the terms of the conversation.
OK. Sure. I’m all for that.
But, when I tried to shake his hand goodbye at the airport terminal, he refused my hand and told me that he could not do so because of his religion.
Had we not just discussed how limiting such things are to achieving world peace?
Could I have humbled myself in order to respect his religion? Well, I “suppose,” but – NO! Not in this hypocritical instance, really!
Because how can I respect an expression of a religion that sees a woman as subservient – no scratch that – as seeing another **human being** as subservient – even as the man himself was talking about how he is profiled and seen as lesser than others because of his skin color and religion?
NOTE: I do not feel that this individual speaks for all Muslims, nor do I support anyone coming back at me here and saying, “well, that’s just Muslims.” NO. I’ve been hugged by people who identify as both Muslim and male, so stop right there.
It isn’t just the manufactured propaganda that divides us. It is how we interpret our beliefs in limiting ways as well.
I thought about this quite a bit afterwards. Could I have set aside my ego in respect for his self-imposed limitations? Should I have done so?
We had just talked about the injustices of profiling American Muslims.
I don’t think so.
Whether I am a person who identifies as a woman is not the point.
I am a person, and that trumps gender and belief – or it should: Humanity has no denominator!
I offered my hand in connection. As a human being with the perception that we are all one.
He rejected that offer because his beliefs are limiting.
We had enjoyed a fruitful dialogue about how we as a human race must set aside inflammatory terminology (terrorism) for matter of fact terms (murder). We discussed that there is actually no genetic difference denoting race. We are one race. In actuality, though I didn’t have the opportunity to discuss it with him, there is also no genetic marker for gender.
Indeed, I know many religious people who do not allow their beliefs to prohibit them from embracing all of humanity.
Later, on our flight, I was reminded once again how ingrained the perception of hierarchy remains in our culture.
Sean needed to use the facilities, but the beverage cart blocked our access to the rear lavatory. We saw another passenger from our area of the cabin entering the front lavatory through the Group 1 cabin (that’s how they avoid perception of economic class nowadays – classifying us in groups instead of first or second-class).
As we walked through the Group 1 section to wait outside of the occupied lavatory, the flight attendant told us (did not ask, told) that we must wait behind the curtain that separates the cabin sections.
(Never mind that the “curtain” nowadays consists of a grid of see-through string forming rectangles that I can stick a finger through. Not much of a curtain beyond being a symbolic separator of those who can or cannot afford a first-class ticket.)
United Airlines, nice job of perpetuating class warfare.
Does anyone buying a higher priced ticket in the 21st century really expect to be treated like they are better than those who can only afford a seat in row 28? No – they expect a free alcoholic beverage, more leg room, maybe a free meal (which they paid for), and easy access on and off the aircraft. They’re selling seats, not luxury cars.
We waited there behind that pretend curtain, as I was not going to let my 8-year-old be denied access to a restroom. And, I am well aware that my speaking out at 32,000 feet could have easily landed me in some sort of absurd Homeland Security chokehold, or worse, embarrassed my child.
But, once we were back in our seats, I pulled aside another flight attendant and asked him if United Airlines has a clause that states that “no first class ticket holder will have to endure the presence of an economy class passenger in the aisles of their section.”
I am sure not one first class passenger would have cared that we were waiting in the aisle of the plane whose wings supported all of us.
It felt awkward that we were treated as not deserving of the aisle space between first class seats, just as I was denied a handshake because of being a woman. Isn’t it time we do away with such bullshit?
But, what is truly disturbing is that the flight attendant felt it was her job to enforce such arcane “policy” that is probably not supported anywhere in her employee handbook. Just as the Uber driver didn’t see his own hypocrisy.
There is truly only one way to dispense with the limitations of our cultures, beliefs, and history – limitations that dictate the perceptions which we choose – and that is to embrace our biology as a single human race.