I loooove good spicy food. Not burn the hell out of you, toilet roll in the freezer spicy, just delicious, aromatic and flavoursome spicy. Once a week we go to our favourite curry restaurant for a hit of spicy deliciousness. We’ve been going there for years, so I guess you could say we fall into the “regular locals” category. With out fail as we enter the restaurant, the owner/chef peeps over the glass partition that separates the kitchen from the dining area. His chef’s hat nodding gracefully as we smile at each other in recognition. Despite that nod of recognition, our conversation has never extended beyond “hello” or “how are you enjoying the food?”
One night not too long ago, after a very satisfying meal, I made my way to the counter to pay the bill. The restaurant was almost empty by then and the chef was sitting behind the counter reading the newspaper. He looked up from the page and that’s when we broke a taboo. We spoke about politics and religion.
Front page news was Isis and the awful atrocities being committed. Here we were, a thoroughly modern Western woman and a modern Muslim man confronted by the divide of political and religious beliefs. I’ve never had an opportunity to speak to a Muslim about the situation and just couldn’t help myself.
We shared our views and perspectives, listening to each other intently and respectfully. What became clear was that we actually shared the same moderate view. We were both part of the peaceful majority. Most importantly, despite having different religious beliefs or political views, we shared common values: respect for others, love for our families and country, a desire to live in a peaceful world. At the end of our conversation, we thanked each other and I’ll never forget his final words, “all we can do is pray.”
The irony of that was not lost on me. Yes, all we can do is pray, despite the fact that we may do so in very different ways. We are the peaceful majority, we want the same things, we are more similar than we are different. Let’s remember that and not lose our voice, or power to stand firm in peace – despite the taunts and threats that would have us betray our values and become monsters.