In My Face

This post is not art-related, I fear and while my blog, overall, is written for myself, from time to time, I like to share some of my “insights” and thoughts with others in order to not feel alone. It is really that, for us, isn’t it? We, who as a society are selfish and feel self-important when in the end, are we so important? Forgive me in advance if this post is a bit disconnected but I am trying to get my thoughts organized.

I am an extroverted introvert. I do like meeting new people within certain realms but overall, I am not good with people. Blame my parents, my terrible childhood and early adulthood and add that I prefer my own company (and that of my husband) and animals to others, on a whole. Having said that, I have respect for people – all people regardless of color, sex, age, or culture unless they are The Stupid. I can not deal with The Stupid, though that runs rampant (or is it amok?) more and more as I get older. Or maybe I just tolerate them less.

Since moving to France, I have become even more isolated and intolerant of The Stupid. While I have a couple of dear friends back in the US, I haven’t been able to connect wholly with anyone here. It could be the language barrier, though I am improving some there. It could equally be a cultural thing, and/or it could be an age thing. However, my statement still stands true here, now that I am living in Europe – that I respect who I can. The multi-cultural, multi-religion, multi-everything is more evident and that is more than fine with me. It makes the world more interesting when there are differences in others.

I also am a big fan of peace and non-violence. Really. Even with The Stupid. My rule is to turn away from them as much as possible. But…this one moment with Them, that I am about to share, was impossible to escape.

My husband and I were on our way home from our vacation last week. We were tired, having had dealt with The Stupid – either those that work for the public transportation system or those of the Tourist variety. We were on our last bus that took us fairly directly home. 5 minutes on the bus and a young African woman with her baby stroller got on. Based on the little I understood, an altercation began between her and an Arabic woman, presumably over the space taken up by the baby stroller. The argument escalated. It got loud with screaming and a very immature exchange (one was mimicking the other, repeating everything the other said, very much like a child would). Then the words started flying “Racist!” “Terrorist!” Other passengers got involved. I shouted to the bus driver to do something. He sort of yelled to calm down but no one heard him. More people got involved with the shouting when the next thing I saw was a physical fight break out complete with a man choking a woman. With this, 1 woman and 2 men jumped in to try and break it up yelling to the bus driver to stop the bus and open the doors. He finally did and the original 2 that were fighting as well as the man doing the choking were off the bus and perhaps others but I couldn’t see.

The bus went back on the route and all I could do was shake and cry at what I had just witnessed. My husband tried to calm me but all I could see was the choking, the screaming, the hateful words. It brought back memories of when I was hit and yelled horrible things to because I was fat during my childhood. I thought of how bullying could lead to death either by the bullies or via suicide. Racism is bullying. The woman that was being choked could have died. Someone in that fight could have had a knife. We could have been in the middle of it and been hurt or dead.

Some of you reading this may be unaffected. Perhaps you live or have lived in a place where what happened is commonplace. Maybe you, like me, have a form of PTSD that would be triggered with seeing something like this. Or maybe you agree with what happened. If you do, I am sorry for you. No one should ever be in a situation like that – either fighting for nothing that leads to violence, or just the violence on its own. So many thoughts are running through my mind as I write this. The women starting the fight- what psychological history do they have to take something as stupid as taking up too much space and turn it into such a racist and violent thing? Was it inevitable that it would turn into a racist thing? Was the stupid argument just a pretext to the prejudices that ran deep in them?

Growing up in the US, and as it continues, racism seems to have a clearer divide – black vs. white, for the most part (there are always exceptions). Here in Europe, it isn’t so clear as evident in what I witnessed. The multi-cultural does not always want to Be. The multi-religion the same. The divide continues instead of mixing together to be One. But there will never be One. In my opinion, it is not a divide of race, religion, sex or culture. It is a divide between us and The Stupid. And I am sad about it, going further back into my introverted retreat.

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