Lama Obeid: Reflecting on hate in Brattleboro

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This is my reflection on an incident that occurred in Brattleboro, on the 13th of August 2015 when I was approached by a man who was intoxicated at 7 p.m. and had his dog to help him keep his balance.

He said: "Are you a Mozlem? We don't like Mozlems."

It is very ironic that such words are said and thought in a place that calls for freedom of religious practice and choice. If there was freedom of choice and a respect of that choice, people would not have even conjured up such thoughts which are not at all acceptable in a "first world" country in the 21st century. I would like to understand where people get such ideas from. Have they heard them from others and repeat them without thought? Or was it from the bias of mainstream media? Whatever their source is, it seems that they do not exert any mental effort to evaluate the input they get. If they do not use the gift of the mind they have been given then its presence is void. According to theories of science, what is not used in several generations will be lost; I wonder whether the likes of this person has already lost all those functions and what rests in his skull is devoid of neuron charges. For a parrot only repeats what it is taught, but cannot generate its own speech, and that is what has become of many people in a homogeneous society where people do not question ideas, but merely repeat them.

I do not feel sorry for myself, but feel sorry for this person who felt compelled to communicate hate whether he really felt it or communicating the message of media and his community towards people of a religion. I feel sorry that hate can take such a large part of people's thoughts and feelings and that is what he has to deal with. I am sorry that he was passed down such information or obtained it himself, but could not process it. It is a shame that some are not cognitively developed yet to have an awareness of stereotypes and generalizations because it is children who usually generalize with concepts and language before they develop the cognitive ability to distinguish details. It is very concerning to me to see a grown man in a "first world" country who lacks basic manners when dealing with strangers and who cannot articulate his beliefs and concerns in a more civilized manner. They claim to be the cradle of civilization, but yet, it is not apparent in the manners of people. Civilization is not about buildings and technology, but first and foremost, it is about human development, and of humanistic features.

Why do I not hold any hate towards their people whilst they have invaded many Muslims countries and consider their veterans who have killed people who share my beliefs and geography heroes? They have monuments cherishing these heroes in the midst of town, but yet do I show any hate towards them? It is ironic that I hold no hate towards their veterans who have cause several atrocities and have caused us immense pain, but yet their people have hate towards civilians who belong to a certain belief but have never held a weapon. The irony lies in that we are guilty until we prove ourselves innocent, and they are innocent because they will never see themselves as guilty.

One of their movies which gained immense popularity in the mainstream has identified our people as "savages." It is a place that we consider the real cradle of civilization; that has a rich history, and gave birth to philosophers. Savages are those who do not use what lies in their skull, and I will leave it at that.

Lama Obeid is a former student of the Marlboro Graduate School and currently resides in Palestine. The opinions expressed by columnists do not necessarily reflect the views of the Brattleboro Reformer.



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