“What you have just said is disheartening to us; Americans” He had his say and walked away and I thought I felt pretty indifferent about his words. I turned around and continued my night out with my friends as if nothing had happened. Yet, I see myself writing this post and I wonder, how genuine my indifference was.
Once upon a time I was hanging out with some friends and a friend of a friend joined us. He asked me where I came from and I said with pride, Syria. He was in his mid forties, seemed well balanced, sounded friendly, appropriate, and pretty confident, till he heard my answer. He looked like he’s struggling for words to say so I put his discomfort at ease by saying “I have been here for 17 years.” and magically those words snapped him out of it.
So what I said, not in so many words, is that I am not a refugee, but what if I were! Aren’t my sisters and my extended family ones? Was that stranger’s reaction an eye opener about how the closest people to me feel when they see those looks of pity in the eyes of locals who ask them “and where do you come from?” or “and what is Aleppo?”
I shouldn’t have insinuated that I’m not a refugee. I should have casually continued my conversation with “and where do you come from?” His reaction shouldn’t have mattered because even if I were one, I have nothing to be ashamed of.
The refugees, I cannot speak on their behalf just like our friend did with “us, Americans”, but the ones I know did not choose to become refugees. They did not want to leave our country where it felt home, to go somewhere where they do not speak the language, do not understand the culture, do not have a business or decent employment opportunities, free education where they pay $0.00 for their children to go to schools and what is equivalent to $20 annually for their bachelor degrees, where they can go to any doctor without having to wait for referrals, where everything is affordable. Why would they leave when they have all that in a secular country that gives them the rights that matter to any human being who wants and needs to live a decent life? Yes, they did not have all their rights, but where does anyone do? Don’t fool yourself, the minute you were born, you were domesticated to fit in, you will never have all your rights till ….. you die or find utopia.
So what was disheartening to that friend of a friend that he felt compelled to walk away from our group? It was something I said that did not match his domestication, aka, brainwashing.
Mind you, I wasn’t the one who was asking the questions:
- Is your family safe from that crazy dictator who is bombing your people using chemical weapons?
- Yes, my family is safe because they happen to reside under our government protection.
- You mean the freed part of Syria right?
- No, I mean the part that the government is still protecting.
- Oh no, I’m sorry to hear that.
- I’m not.
- Interesting, aren’t you afraid for their safety?
- Why would I? I grew up in Syria and I never had to once look behind my shoulders even if I was walking back from a party at 4 in the morning.
- Yes, but the situation has changed now. You have a dictator who is obsessed with power.
- Our president is not a dictator, but you were led to believe so. If he was a dictator bombing his own people, why would he get elected in 2014 by 70% of Syrians all over the world?
- I don’t know what you’re talking about man, I see the images of those kids in the news and my heart breaks over the suffering of your people. I do not understand how you are defending a war criminal.
- I do. I check more than one resource when it comes to media coverage. I had my suspicion the minute Barbara Walter interviewed President Bachar Al-Assad and ABC broadcasted it under “The dictator speaks”. Wasn’t that an indicator that they’re taking away from you the right of forming your own impression and opinion? The title gave it away didn’t it? I happen to check neutral resources and to ask my immediate family there after watching the local news if what they’re broadcasting is true. I happen to research and find out who the American allies are and see why they are doing what they are doing to Syria and at what cost the weapon deals are taking place. I do my homework before I accuse president Bachar Al-Assad with the so called dictator cliche that the American media wants you to believe. I refuse to take things at their face value. I learned my lesson since the Iraq war lie. I am sure you have way too many other lies that you grew up hearing where the truth came out a year, a decade, or two later.
- What you have just said is disheartening to us; Americans.
I couldn’t respond because he walked away as if I hurt his feelings to the core.
If I offended you by talking about the American media and its agenda, you also offended me by speaking on behalf of all Americans. Last time I checked, I have been an American myself and it’s been 11 years already.
Yet you didn’t see me walking away telling you that your ignorance was disheartening.