Friday, January 13, 2012

Being a traveller, being wrong & being in a movie

Have you ever been proven wrong? I love it when I’m proven wrong. Not by words but by actions, it puts me back in my box and shows me my humanity.

From the minute I stepped off the aeroplane it was like a sensory overload. The accent alone is enough to make you feel like you’re walking through a movie.

I waited at Atlanta airport for my connecting flights and I just looked at people. Families, friends, lovers all waiting for their flights, they seemed so....normal.

It was so cool to be able to eat the food that you see on TV and walk in the places that are in so many movies. But the people were the biggest shocker for me. They were so friendly, helpful and normal.

There were times that we shared the canteen with teenagers and I was so shocked at how respectful they were. Always saying please and thank you, letting you dish food first and not wasting food.

I have not seen South African kids in a big group act like that. I had to wonder, we always accuse American’s of being brainwashed by their media/TV, are we not guilty of the same thing? I know I was.

I was walking around one of the most dangerous places in USA and a female beggar asked me for small change, I actually got scared.I said no and walked really fast into the next shop to “loose her” I had just landed and was still taking everything in, it was only after a few days, I realised that they were nothing like Jo’burg beggars.They asked whether you said yes or no left you alone. They didn’t please their case to you, and then argue over the little change you gave them. They were so not normal for me.

We were on the ferry going to see the statue of liberty, ironically not something I ever wanted to actually go and see. And I overheard a conversation. *I know it’s wrong, but it just happened*. This white man was there with his family, he smiled at me as my friends and I stood next to him. And he started telling his son*I think* that this was the exact boat trip that their forefathers took all those years ago, to find “Freedom”. For the first time, I saw the ‘forefathers’ as the people saw them. As brave heroes and freedom fighters and not people who thought they were better than the rest.

On one of the flights the airhostess, announced on the flight that they have on board “Men who serve our country” and then asked everyone to give them a hand. I immediately though, considering that they probably cut off many of my fellow Muslim brothers and sisters hands, no thank you. And I didn’t clap for them. I walked through the airport looking at the hundred of army, navy whatever people and I just wondered, how many people have you killed? How much innocent blood do you have on your hands?

And then I saw him. The air force boy, I could not take my eyes off of him. I was staring at him, but he seemed to not have noticed #thankfully *what if they arrested me right there and then for staring at an officer of the law* #scaryshit. He was young. Probably just turned 18. He didn’t look it. He looked like he was 16 years old. And suddenly the big bad US army killing all the Muslims was turned into a living breathing person. A creation of the Lord of the Worlds. A boy that could have been my cousin. And my heart just broke for him. I tried to imagine what his mother must have felt, the day he “went off to war”. He was not a warrior. He was just a boy.

As we bordered our connecting flight, I overheard an older man talking to him. He asked him,, where was he stationed and then asked him, what did he want to do in the future. He replied that he wanted to make a career in the air force. He said it with such pride. And the older man replied, in a tone of experience “that’s what we all wanted”. Turns out the older man also served his country and when his turn came, they just kicked him the curb. I don’t know what exactly happened or how. I didn’t get to hear the whole story. The parts I did hear, was the older man warning the air force boy, not to pin his hopes on it.

I had a conversation with a Muslim guy when I came back about America. He went off on a tangent about how they have ruined the world and started listing all they countries that they invaded and all the people they killed like some kind of dare I say it “fundamentalist”. And I was so livid. I told him, that the US government is NOT its people. What about all the Muslims that live in America? You would pray for the downfall of a nation which your brothers and sisters belong to? Rather pray for justice to prevail! He didn’t get it. He couldn’t see beyond his own ignorance and hate.

I remembered the live movie I witness when I was sitting waiting for another flight. It was the most romantic thing ever. A soldier was running towards one of the boarding gates *I kid you not*. He stopped behind one of the flight attendants, tapped her on her shoulder and when she turned around she got a shock and then jumped into his arms. They were both smiling; hugging, kissing. And the people watching this ‘live show’ said “awww”. We were all touched at that moment by young love. It was beautiful *tear*. You have to wonder, would they see each other again? When is she going to get a phone call telling her he is dead?

War is senseless, not matter what the cause, or how honourable the cause is. Nobody wins in war.

I realised that they believe in a dream, just as we South African’s do. We believe in equality for all people regardless of race, religion and economic status which we know doesn’t happen. And they believe that their country is the best country in the world, it is after all “the land of the free”. That’s not true either.

We all believe in philosophies, hopes and dreams of things not because we don’t know the reality of what they truly are, but we believe in the hope of what they might become. If we the SA people were judged by our government, we would all be alleged fraudsters, liars, adulterers, acquitted rapists and terrorists.

I’m not saying that there aren’t ignorant, blinded, arrogant people in the US. I’m just saying that they are no different to the ignorant, blinded, arrogant people that exist in the rest of the world. Before you judge, go there, meet the people, and talk to the ones who are being oppressed and the oppressors, before you make judgements.

Some things are better in theory. Making my own ice cream out of chocolate, gummy bears, oreo's and cream was not such a good idea.


Anonymous said...

Very well said - governments should represent their people, but in many, many cases, that doesn't happen. It's not just the U.S. - it's elsewhere too. In fact, look at the Middle East and tell me whether most of the people of that region are in agreement with their governments' policies...the reality is that the rulers do not represent the ruled.

There's hope in the revolutions we've seen of late - but hope will die if a new set of puppets and tyrants come to power - meaning it's just a new face on the same old system.

Unfortunately, the actions of governments - to many foreigners - are taken as the will and attitude of the people of that nation; which is very sad. True, many are brainwashed by the mass media - but you get so many that are not, and want something DIFFERENT and disagree with their governments' actions. That's why there are things like protests.

The guy you spoke to - who was kind of fundamentalist in his views of Americans - it's so ironic that he, and many Muslims are like that. We say that the actions of a few crazy Muslims (i.e. the terrorists) taints the public image of Islam in the we're all judged badly because of the actions of those few. Yet when you look at the nation of America, is it not just a few - the elites and government officials - that are doing all of those things we hate? Yet we'll just smear the whole American population with the same brush...double standards? Or just lack of realisation that - just like we don't want to be stereotyped based on the actions of a few rotten ones among us, we shouldn't stereotype others based on the actions of the rotten among them...

Edge Of Where said...

looks like you had an amazing time *jealous*

Lady T said...

I totally agree with you Dreamlife, its double standards. And we should really stop doing it. Myself included. was very cool.

Lady T said...

There is one thing I failed to mention. That New York, as cool as it was, it is nothing more than one big billboard. Advertising everything that you don't have, everything you've always wanted. It supports my theory that marketing is one of the worst things that humans could have come up with. *post to do be done soon*