Ghandi, beat this. I’m only kidding. But really, this is something that I’ve been thinking a lot about. So for those of you who read this blog for it’s playful nature and lack of anything serious – I’m sorry, but this entry is the exception. Still, I hope you enjoy it!
Je suis americaine. I’m sorry to say so, but it’s true. Just like you happened to be born in France, I was born in New York City, NY. I didn’t choose it, or ask for it – though if I could’ve, we’d probably still be here having the same “conversation.” I’m going through a period now of realizing that there are people out there who want to kill and terrorize others simply because of where they happened to be born, what religion they choose to follow (or not follow), what color skin they happened to be born into. This isn’t the first time I’ve thought of it – of course my mind starting recognizing these things very quickly at age 11 when the Towers fell. But even with the Times Square Bomber in the most recent news of my “local” terror, there was some feeling of “OK, we’re all Americans. We’re all together.” To experience the threat of terror while abroad is something completely different and, honestly, something I did not even think twice about experiencing during my 4 months abroad. Yet, here I am reading warnings, news reports, constantly looking over my shoulder and having a new found motivation – more like a necessity – to speak French in public. I guess I can thank Al-Qaeda for fluency? Still, it’s a strange feeling that of walking around with a target on your back that could, potentially, be of your imagination and irrationality, or, peut-être, totally rational and real. Either way, I don’t like it.
I can’t help who I am and I don’t wish I were anything different. Nor do I wish for anyone else to feel ashamed of where they come from or to bend to fit my views. I’m just a little confused – I’d even go so far to say as to say I’m incredulous – that those with many years more wisdom than I can’t reach this concept in their minds but I, a twenty-year old kid (because let’s face it, I am), can see the logic to the world around us. I learned a long time ago from a very wise teacher (Mrs. Tenser if you ever see this, IOU 1,000 thanks for the amazing lessons you taught me) that the answer to all of our problems really boils down to one word, which I do really feel the need to underline, bold and italicize: tolerance. If I can simplify our problems down to three syllables, why is it so hard for everyone else? Realize, tout le monde, that we all have the same two eyes, nose and mouth (even MJ had these things at one point); the same heart, the same organs; the same wants, needs, desires; we’re all born, we all love, we all hurt, we all cry, we all die the same. And this is so atypical Ali, especially for this blog, which is – let’s be honest – a very sarcastic and “my life is a joke” account of my experiences abroad. That’s how I am, that’s how I speak and I’m always the first one to find the humor in my personal life. But when my trips, plans and general well being start being threatened by men and women who wear cultural blinders and can only see their point of view, I feel the need to get serious. And maybe this entry is a completely random cultural manifesto or totally naïve and idealistic – I can agree that it probably is all those things and more – but there’s truth in the statement when the Little Prince says “Les adultes sont bizarres.” We are so ungrudging, so open, so tolerant when we’re young. “You can’t say you can’t play” (for all you Todd School grads, you get that this phrase marked our way of life) isn’t hard to follow until we grow up. At what point do we learn that it’s OK to discriminate? At what point does our lens become tainted with hatred? Shouldn’t it be that as children we do these things that lack all sense and logic because we don’t know any better that we are all, at our cores, the same? I pose these questions to start a discussion because, clearly, they have no real answer. I’m not about to change the minds of radicals, conservatives or criminal masterminds with one blog post and a few (good) questions. But if I’m going to have a blog, I may as well put down some actual thoughts along with my anecdotes of total self-deprecation and this is something that, especially of late, has been a constant preoccupation inside my head.
Well, I’m going to go be “Hollandaise” this weekend in Paris. That is, if I ever get there. They’re greve-ing again. Always freaking striking! What do you have to greve about, people of France? You live in an actual paradise. You’re diet consists of rose, baguettes and cheese. So they put off your retirement for a few years? Go grab a bottle and go talk to my Dad – he’d be happy if someone made him retire at 62! Give up the greve and get me to Paris. I’ll even bring you some wine for the train ride. Please!