How open minded are we as people? This is a question that I had been asking myself for some time. You see, I always thought of myself as an accepting person, a person who has respected others’ ideas even if I don’t necessarily agree with them . Little did I know that a book club meeting would actually highlight my own red lines, revealing to me that although I am accepting of all religious beliefs, all non believers, all sexual orientations, and all lifestyles, there are certain beliefs I couldn’t begin to tolerate.
This fact hit me when, true to our war torn region, our last book club discussion somehow changed from being about Life of Pi to being about Politics and the definition of enemies, and within the sub topic of politics the trendy topic of Israel come up. That was when one girl in the meeting said that she believed the Israelis were here to stay and that we as Arabs should find some common language in which we can co-exist with them. Hearing those words I felt my anger literally bubble up inside me.
I, the open minded person, who is supposedly educated enough to listen to other views, found myself unable to even listen to or even begin to tolerate such an opinion. I didn’t understand how we as Arabs are even questioning our feelings towards Israel or how we could possibly be in Jordan , a country neighboring the occupied territories of Palestine, and yet have people within our community who are talking about co-existing with Israel. There it was , my red line. I even found myself aggressively saying “No, we shouldn’t co-egoist with the Israelis, we shouldn’t consider finding common ground, they shouldn’t be here, and we as Arabs shouldn’t even be wondering about this’. At this point, I have to inform you that I am not even a person immersed in politics, nor am I someone who watches the news all day. I may not even have all my facts straight on the issue, but yet I had my strong opinion i.e. my red lines.
Although I was saying we shouldn’t be wondering about this, I found myself wondering why, I a reserved person who is good at keeping her opinions to herself was unable to stay quiet. Something in that statement struck a nerve I guess. Was I experiencing a generation gap? Did I come from the last generation where school books defined that area on the map as the occupied territories of Palestine, and where JTV used to cut any mention of Israel, and where we as kids viewed the word Israeli as an insult. Was I sporting an old idea?
A similar incident happened in my last trip to South Africa, where an Israeli tourist decided to chit chat with me on the bus while we were on our way to a safari. She was trying to have a conversation with me while I was unable to even pretend to be polite. These incidents opened my eyes to the fact that in life, we all have our red lines. Some say any atheist is going to hell, others say any homosexual can’t possibly be a believer, and some say anyone even considering Israel and is ok with it is a traitor. No matter how open minded we claim to be I guess we are all judgmental deep down inside, we just have strong views about different issues.
but, is judgment always a bad thing? Aren’t our strong views our way of keeping true to ourselves in a world full of lies? I guess no one can say that they are truly open minded, otherwise if we accept everything and anything we stop being ourselves. On a personal level I wasn’t proud of my reaction it was a bit strong, but it was the real me, and I am cynical, opinionated, talkative, and far from being perfect. It’s just who I am .
Fortunately on that day, someone obviously more diplomatic than myself, steered the conversation back to the book, and no one fought that day over judgment. In fact, we all ended up enjoying the meeting while keeping our judgmental views tamed.


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