Somewhere Between Aisles 18 and 19

I lost my prejudices
Added: Wednesday, 29 April 2009

watch original V-Blog in Persian

watch original V-Blog in German

The following is a translation of a letter from a German-speaking viewer of my v-blogs. I thought it was so candid and refreshingly inspiring, I'd share it with you all:

"Not long ago I was on a flight to go and see my family. I don't generally consider myself racist or prejudiced, since I am myself of Indian descent and know what it's like to be discriminated against, but I guess if we're really honest, we all are a little prejudiced at times. As I was waiting at the gate, I saw five Arab men who were praying in preparation for their flight. They were all dressed in traditional attire. I'm a woman and I suddenly felt uncomfortable around those men. Perhaps because I felt that they were looking at me or judging me for not being dressed like a Moslem woman should. I hoped that I would not be sitting next to them.

Of course I ended up right in the middle of them. The plane was pretty full and it was difficult to find another seat. One of them started praying again and I wondered why he had to do that next to me. I guess my body language betrayed the fact that I was feeling uncomfortable, because when I looked around for another seat, a white, German lady caught my eye and sympathetically said, "I know how you're feeling. I wouldn't want to sit next to these kinds of people either."

I found myself going red in the face. I was really ashamed that someone, whom I would consider racist, was 'bonding' with me. Had my discomfort been so obvious? Were my prejudices written all over my face? I kept thinking, that's not what I stand for.

When it was time to eat, they brought the food for the Moslem gentlemen first, as it was halaal. And then something happened that shook me up thoroughly. For some reason, the five men, who had been sitting next to and behind me, didn't open their dinner packs, but instead sat there and waited. At first I thought they might be fasting or praying. But then, 15 minutes later, when my food came, they all began eating with me. And it hit me – they had had the decency to wait for me to eat.

In that moment, as we sat together and ate dinner, I felt so connected to these gentlemen and so alienated from myself and the lady that had spoken to me earlier on. No word was every exchanged between me and the men next me, nothing was ever said, but that elegant and mannered gesture had spoken more than words and had impressed me beyond imagination.

I don't know. You told us to look for the good in people and this was an example of how I had looked for the negative, but in the end I realized how wrong I'd been. For the remainder of the flight I realized that none of these men had looked at me strangely or judgmentally. That the only one with judgmental eyes had been me. This experience has certainly changed me for the better."

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