Saturday, February 5, 2011

If Only

I am on a business trip and this morning I wandered down for the free breakfast.  As I approached the breakfast room, a beautiful little Princess toddled up to me.  She had sparkle shoes.  I told her how much I loved them and how I wish I could wear shoes like that.

By this time her mother had joined the wandering cherub.  She was tall, dressed as formally as her daughter with a sparkled head scarf in the Muslim tradition.  She smiled and then began the age old ritual of mothers of toddlers-chased her children around the room.  She reprimanded them in a mix of English and her mother tongue. 

As I searched for something I could grab and go, late as usual, I smiled.  She did what I, and every other mother have done, she repeated her child's name a thousand times.  "Hana! Hana!  See they have yogurt. Hana! Hana! Hana!"  Why do we do that?  As if our littles have forgotten who they are and if we repeat it often enough they will come to their senses and become instantaneously obedient. 

I waited for the muffin to toast, tried to block out the hundredth "Hana!" and listened to the morning news on t.v.  It was tuned to the protests in Egypt.  They were discussing the Muslim Brotherhood.  The anchor was desperately trying to convince the audience that they are no more than religious folks wanting democracy.  The leader was asked directly, "Will there be freedom of religion if the Muslim Brotherhood take over Egypt?" "Yeah, sure," he answered.

I know better.  The following is a quote from their website, ""Allah is our objective. The Prophet is our leader. Qur'an is our law. Jihad is our way. Dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope."  Doesn't sound so free to me.

I was struck by the images of the religious and political war playing out on the news.  I looked at the Muslim woman who was chasing her beautiful children around the breakfast buffet.  The gulf between her and my religious beliefs couldn't be wider.  How did she perceive the political machinations in Egypt?  How did she perceive the religious rumblings?  No matter how hard the pundits and news anchors try-under such a system, I would be persecuted.  I wouldn't be alone in a hotel, free to chase my children around a lobby.

I wasn't brave enough to engage her in a conversation.  I had to dash to my conference.  Yet, tonight I can't get that Mother and her little Princess out of my thinking.  Irrespective of how we worship or what we believe or what nation we are from or what tongue we speak-we are mothers.  We love our children.  We repeat their names ad nauseum.  We chase them around hotel lobbies. 

If only that were enough to still the murderous rumblings of geopolitical unrest.  If only Hana and my sons could grow up in a world where one will not control and manipulate the other-with oil, with money or other means.  If only...

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