The world is not peaceful. I pray for peace. I’m Israeli. Yes, I am a Jew. For the past (almost) four years, I’ve been dating an Egyptian man!? Yes, a Jewish girl dating a Muslim.
We met in college. Before really getting to know him, I was just vaguely aware that he is an Arab — hey, he’s got good looking hair and blue eyes — but it didn’t really matter. We smoked some hookah. He talked about the Egyptian soccer team, and I probably zoned out because I hate soccer. I lied to him and said I was from Florida, just because explaining I’m a Costa Rican Israeli who writes in English and doesn’t have an accent is kind of a hassle when you’re not expecting a long-term friendship or whatever. I wasn’t looking for anything serious, and I don’t think he was, either. It just sort of happened. We started dating, then madly in love.
It’s not a big deal. We are still dating and in love.
I’m sure to some people it is. But I don’t think it should be. I never exactly imagined this is how things would turn out, but I’m glad it is. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from this relationship, it is that at the end of the day, people are people. Some like spicy food and roller coasters. Others like dogs and couldn’t live without Chipotle. We’re all different but we’re all the same at the same time. Our place, race, family, ethnicity, or religion of birth doesn’t make us the enemy. If anything, it just makes us a fellow human.
If you wear a burka or a turban or a kippah, you’re just as capable as feeling for other people. You’re just as capable of knowing and understanding human suffering, of hurting when others are hurting. And you’re just as capable of rejoicing when humanity prevails, when goodness overcomes evil. You are just as capable of condemning extremists of any kind, even when they share your culture, ethnicity, or religion. You’re just as capable of knowing right from wrong, justice from injustice.
You’re just as capable of helping others, even when they are so different than you. Even when they come from completely separate worlds.
Good people are good people are good people are good people. Good people want good things, not just for themselves but for others, too. Good people are saddened by war. Good people are inspired by love and peace.
Good people realize that, more often than not, compromise is necessary. Of course our background and our experiences influence how we see and feel about things. I personally grew up with news of suicide bombings. For a long time, this made me angry. For a long time, I was sympathetic to those who wanted revenge, because I thought this equaled justice.
Often, we’re so blinded by our experiences, good and bad, that we are unable to see a solution for everyone. And that’s not just or fair.