In Jordan I have the wonderful opportunity to speak with many different people and social classes. Mainly I talk to Men between the ages of 20 and 50 who have good English and love Americans but I've gotten to speak with many different people. One of the things that I love to do is talk to them about their views on politics, the Middle East and other things like that. I love the responses and they are very eye opening to see how general they are across the body of people I speak with. I will describe one of them here for you to see and think about yourself.
First of all, pretty much every Jordanian I talk to says they love Americans. They tell me they are the best and kindest people in the world but they hate our government. A few days ago I was talking to a man named Kholdun who made sure to tell me EVERY time he mentioned America or its politics, that he loved Americans, the only thing he hated was our government. I was deeply impressed that every time he would bring this up in a conversation, and if fact every time most people bring it up in a conversation, they make that differentiation. Something that takes an extra 10 seconds every time to say but in fact makes a huge difference. He said the same thing about the Israelis he knows and all the governments of Europe. This is where the title comes in, because Americans do not divorce these things in our minds.
How many of us, when we first think of Islam, Arab, or Middle East, immediately think of terrorism or religious fanatics? How much of our country assumes that every person in the Middle East hates the west, always has hated the west, and will continue to hate the west? Why do we think of the Middle East as a place that has been violent for 2000 years and that the people here simply can not obtain peace because they are not peaceful people? Why is it that we, as the most powerful nation in the world, do not differentiate like my simple Jordanian friends? We as Americans have become insulated by power and refuse to see the world as it really is. Even when we travel, instead of truly seeing the culture we expect America to come with us. We insulate ourselves and trust other people to tell us what is going on when we can find out for ourselves and it is damaging us greatly.
Mother Teresa said, "When we judge we leave no room for love." We as Americans need to get out of our bubble and understand the world around us otherwise we will continue to make dumb mistakes and never truly engage the people of other nations who love us and the ideals of America so very much. I hope that my experiences here in Jordan are helping me to see the loving people here, and that in some small way all those who read this back in the states will see the Jordanians for how they really are. Loving, wonderful people with huge hearts.
Note: After receiving some wonderful feed back on this blogpost I have to make one addition. I love America and Americans. There are many things that make our nation great and many wonderful ideals and thought processes that seem inherent in our upbringing. I, however, do not like ignorance and feel that if we are ignorant on a subject we do not have the right to have a vocal opinion. In order for us to truly be the leaders we should, we all should educate ourselves on important subjects and seek to hear both sides of the story and form our own conclusions. The whole point of the blog post, is for you and me to ask ourselves how much we truly know about the Middle East.