Often Loving our neighbors begins when we find common ground, shared interests or even shared beliefs. It’s not complicated, really, we share humanity and because of that alone we have a wealth of similarities to draw from. If we are willing to consider them.
One of my Arab friends who lives in the US recently shared this story with me:
(in my words)
“My wife and I got a babysitter and decided to see the new movie Exodus: Kings and Gods about the Prophet Moses. After buying our tickets we grabbed some snacks and spent a few minutes checking out the displays and posters for upcoming movies. While we both speak English (and are US citizens) we sometimes still speak in our native language, Arabic. Which we were doing that night.
As we took our time in the lobby, enjoying our conversation, a long haired man caught my attention as he would occasionally send a passing glance our direction. I didn't think much of it at the time, seemed harmless, and I was focused on enjoying our evening out.
When we finally made our way into the theater, we stood for a moment to look for a good place to sit. As we paused, the long haired man approached us. He asked ‘What language are you speaking?’ Puzzled by this question and by how close he was standing to me, I simply replied ‘why?’ He repeated his question a second time and I repeated my response. Finally he said, ‘are you speaking Arabic, are you Muslim?’ I gave in and said yes we are.
The man, obviously frustrated, and standing just a close as possible then said ‘Why are you here then, Moses is our Prophet not yours and this movie is about him!’ I was still surprised and not sure the best way to respond so with my thickest accent (and an internal smirk) I said ‘My English is not so good, I thought this was an action movie. Here are my tickets; can you refund my money so we can see something else?’
Now it was the long haired man’s turn to be surprised. With a blank stare, he simply repeated himself as he stomped down the aisle to his seat, ‘this is our prophet, not yours…’
After he left, my wife and I found two open seats, sat down and continued to enjoy our evening out.”
You would have to know my friend to truly appreciate the humor in his response. Heck, I am still chuckling about it.
But this story is an example of how our misunderstandings of each other can create divisions, often unnecessarily. For example, this man was maybe unaware that Moses is considered a Prophet of great importance by our Christian, Jewish AND Muslim neighbors. This is also true of other Prophets like Adam, Abraham and even Jesus (for Christians and Muslims)
So even with religion, where the world says we should be divided (even to the point of being enemies), we find tons of similarities. And if we are willing focus on this common ground, we can often begin building the foundation for a lifelong friendship.
If you would like to learn more about The Nations and how we are Loving our neighbors in the US and overseas you can email firstname.lastname@example.org