A Jew walks into a bar. And no, this is not going to be a bad joke! It’s a truly inspiring story.
Brussels, 2016, right next to the European Commission. The day was coming to an end, pubs were getting crowded, people were enjoying their free time. My friends and I decided to go for a drink after a busy day. We met some new people of various backgrounds and, naturally, we started exchanging ideas and opinions about our life experiences. It’s always best to get to know a person before we judge them, right? Unfortunately, this wasn’t exactly the case that night.
We were six people of different ages, nationalities and religions at the table: 20 to 35 years of age, Europeans and Non-Europeans, Christians and Muslims. All nice and well until a guy, who was evidently Jewish (he was wearing the Kippah) sat at the table next to us. At that point, out of nowhere, the guy started being verbally assaulted, based on his religious background. Of course, everyone is entitled to their own opinions and beliefs, but when the conversation is turning violent-ish, we should have the decency to know when to stop. The ones who started the ‘fight’ eventually left the conversation, and the bar altogether.
So there we were, three Christians having a chat with the Jewish guy. He started explaining to us how these kind of instances happen to him very often; he goes through different forms of assault (verbal or even physical), his friends choose to walk him home at night, for safety reasons. As much as this was saddening to hear, the guy was very positive and hopeful. He’s travelled the world, made friends all around, and some of his best mates, he proudly highlighted, are Muslims.
Isn’t it funny how life works? Isn’t it ‘funny’ how we choose to judge people without getting to know them first? And, obviously, this is not only valid for the little story I wanted to share with you. This is also valid for many people of different backgrounds or religions. It happens everywhere and it doesn’t take into consideration many of the facts. The times we live in are changing – it’s actually a continuous change. People from all around the world are preaching for equality, love and understanding, tolerance and respect. How can we sometimes be so ignorant and arrogant?There is a growing tendency to embrace diversity. But there is also one going in the opposite direction. Why do we sometimes prefer hatred and repulsion? Everything in this world could get so much better if only, for one moment, we decide to listen first.
As for me, personally, nationality and religion don’t matter when I meet someone for the first time. Getting to know a person who might be totally different than you (i.e. in terms of culture, traditions, beliefs) is truly awesome and mind-opening. I am lucky to have good friends and acquaintances of diverse backgrounds – and I embrace it! With arms wide open. At times, we should stop listening to what the mainstream media is trying to dictate and we should go out there and meet the people we think we are ‘afraid’ of. It will most probably turn out that they are not all bad or dangerous, but they are quite amazing!
Until next time, open your eyes and your ears to what the world has to tell you!
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