Cultural Glimpse

Enjoying diversity

A World Without Prejudice

A World Without Prejudice

I heard a knock on my door. My daughter assumed it was her uncle and rushed to open it. It was not her uncle but a lovely well-dressed family of a mother, father and their daughter. Jehovah’s Witnesses have come to my door before, and I am never displeased by their presence. Sometimes it is an elderly woman with her grandchild or two sisters or friends, or whomever. But they are always polite and sensitive and I appreciate that they have taken the time to get up early Saturday mornings, dress as if they are going to church, and pass out literature that one can choose to read or not read. Nothing is forced.

Yesterday’s literature especially caught my attention. It was entitled “A World Without Prejudice: When?” and it talked about how discrimination and prejudice is nonexistent in heaven.
“God is not partial,” said the Christian apostle Peter (Acts 10:34,35) having received a divine vision in which he was told: “You stop calling defiled the things God has cleansed.” Or simply created?

Fifty years ago the work of American civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., caused over 100 countries to adopt the United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination. Other global initiatives were adopted in the decades that followed. Yet in 2012, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stated “Nevertheless, racism continues to cause suffering for millions of people around the world.”

What’s the answer? Attempts to eliminate prejudice must not merely curb discriminatory acts but also change a person’s thoughts and feelings toward people of another group.

Myself, I’ve always thought that the best way to do this is not just by reading about their issues, but to actually spend time with another group of people, invite them to your home, share a meal, visit their place of worship, ask them questions. We do not have to travel overseas to meet a new people and culture. It’s right here in our neighborhood, waiting to be discovered.

The Women of Telkaif

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Telkaif like most of the villages in the north is in the city of Mosul, Iraq. Mosul is where Agatha Christie once lived with her husband, an archaeologist who was involved in the excavation in Nimrud in the north of Iraq and he explored the ancient city of Ur in the south.

“I fell in love with Ur,” Agatha Christie wrote in her autobiography.

I fell in love with Telkaif, where my parents and their parents and their grandparents are from.
Yesterday I invited over some cousins who I stayed with in Telkaif in 2000. Telkaif is in the province of Mosul, and there, I got to visit the various churches and monasteries that date back to the early Christians in the place, from the 6th Century. I got to sleep on the rooftop and watch the stars shine brightly over the maze of streets and exquisite 19th century houses. I got to observe the fresh meat and dairy market when around six o’clock in the morning, my cousin and I walked to a place where cattle was slaughtered and where countrywomen sat beside a curb, selling homemade dairy products like yogurt and clotted cream. For a dollar, I also bought an abaya, a type of veil, from Mosul’s market.

Things are no longer the same in the northern part of Iraq. According to the Bishop of Mosul, of a 32,000 plus population of Christians, there are now less than 2,500. So I may soon have no relatives left in Iraq to visit.