Tolerance and Respect

Your opinions of the world and people is greatly affected by how you are raised and the “talk” that surrounds you. A few years ago, I went to Egypt. I found myself very scared in the city of Cairo, based on my own prejudices. Surrounded by dark smoking men, in crowded streets and dark roads, I found myself highly on guard, looking accusatory at people and wanting to hide out in my hotel room.
Two months ago, we were in Thailand. On our airplane to Bangkok from Penang, many of the other passengers were wearing robes and head pieces. I found myself scared and curious at the same time. When we were walking around Surin Beach on a Sunday night, we found ourselves lost in a local community full of men and women dressed in their robes and hats after attending mosque. I talked myself into a frenzy, telling Adam how I thought we needed to keep our mouths shut, they would hear our American accents and hate us immediately…or find out I was Jewish and I would be in danger.

This was my ignorance, and looking back I am ashamed. Our news media, movies and television shows guide us to be in “fear” of people of certain backgrounds due to repetitive behaviors being shown to us in these medias.
Traveling, especially in countries such as Malaysia and Singapore have truly opened my eyes, ease my fear and made me very ashamed to have felt this way in the past.
I believe many countries and people can learn a lesson from the way the people in these countries coexist in peace and nonjudgment and full of respect. There are no odd looks, or avoidance of each other. You see children of different races, adults dressed in so many types of traditional dress, more colors of skin and smells, more places of worship…all together…in small cities…coexisting as one nation of people.
As we stay in these different towns, surrounded by so many languages and people, I look back at American news and am so disappointed in our judgment on other humans and disrespectful of their beliefs. I don’t just mean white middle class workers being judgmental or disrespectful, I mean all Americans…all colors, religions and backgrounds…we should all be held accountable for the thoughts and harmful words that have crossed through our lives.
Religions, color, language, dress, beliefs…they do not so easily define a person. For all you fellow Americans, think about what our country has been developed from, our past and our future. I don’t like the direction everything is headed. We should all open our eyes to how other people coexist without judgment.

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