06-12-2006, 10:51 PM
Anti-Muslim prejudice unexpectedly shaken Reply
The Ottawa Citizen
Saturday, April 15, 2006
I have been a clinical psychologist for nearly 35 years. A significant portion of my psychotherapeutic endeavours has been to explore with my patients how they organize their perceptions of the world around them.
This enterprise is often arduous and lengthy, but when successful, results in more harmonious transactions within the patient's own personal environment, as well as with the rest of the planet. When it fails, patients sadly continue to grasp their prejudices and biases close to their chests, often resulting in heartache.
There are, however, unplanned events, many times outside the therapeutic endeavour, which have the power to cause sudden, profound change. It just happened to me.
I am a Jew. It is no surprise, then, that I have very conflicted attitudes about Muslims in general and especially strong, unconditional, negative ones about Muslim terrorists. It is with some shame that I acknowledge probable over-generalized, unhelpful predispositions toward Muslims.
One simple, single, serendipitous event weakened my biases about Muslims.
As I was driving home yesterday, I saw a Muslim man (his clothing clearly identified him as such), stop in the middle of an intersection, bend down, retrieve a piece of trash from the street, then deposit it in a garbage bin on the sidewalk. This is the first time I ever saw anyone -- anyone -- act civilly in this manner. In an instant my prejudices were challenged. It will forever be much more difficult, if not impossible, for me to paint all Muslims with sweeping, stinking, tar.
As I drove by, I gave him a big thumbs up to accompany my broad smile. Thanks, brother.
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