Tuesday, 25 January 2011

a Moment for Wisdom…





“If you treat poor people like human beings, it increases the likelihood they’ll behave that way.”

Bill Strickland

Personal Wisdom:

Do you ever treat human beings (or other beings) in the abstract? As statistics? As concepts?

Have you any experiences of treating people well, and having them rise to the occasion?

Do you have an experience of not being treated as a human being yourself? How did you feel? What did you do?

Societal Wisdom:

As a society, we talk about “the poor” or “the homeless” or even “the rich”. How can we
as a society treat people like human beings?

As a society, do Americans treat other people like equals? With dignity?

What would happen if we did?

a Moment with Sharif…

There are times in my life when I have been treated like an object, a statistic, a “thing”.

Going through airport security in the days after 9/11 was an
interesting experience! The TSA folks would read my name, see that I was entering the US from a foreign country, then go berserk. I wasn’t a human being, I was a bomb-throwing terrorist.

In one trip back to the “little room” every airport has for its security problems, waiting for the FBI’s version of the “Welcome Wagon”, I overheard an exchange between two of the TSA folks. The one going through my luggage held up a copy of “Creating a World That Works for All” and said, “Hey, this guy’s writing books about peace and nonviolence!” To which the other TSA guy said, “Look at his name! That peace stuff is probably just his front!”

I try to react to others from the depths of my humanity… even when I’m being treated otherwise. (Even by the TSA!) Sometimes it’s hard, especially when people’s fear bells are being rung. Sometimes it’s hard not to become either defensive or belligerent. But, it becomes easier… with practice!



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Sharif Abdullah photo: Lisa Norton

All other photos by Sharif Abdullah, unless otherwise noted.

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