Today, I talked to a colleague and friend of mine from Saudi Arabia. We talked about our families, our jobs, and how things were going these days. Suddenly, she said:
"You know, I really appreciate your friendship. You are always open-minded, you ask questions about my life and want to know the truth of things. A lot of time, when people see me, they make up their minds immediately, and if I then want to tell them that I'm not an oppressed woman, they won't even listen or know anything further"
My friend is Muslim, she wears the hijab, she's the mother of two children, living in Saudi Arabia. And she's also married to the man of her choosing, she is a very successful professional, and lives in Saudi Arabia even though she also holds a green card for the United States.
But still, people see her hijab, know the country she lives in, and draw their conclusions, which could not be further from the truth. But they don't even want to know the truth, because the answers may destroy their world view, of the underdeveloped world, of oppressed women, of a religion and culture they only know of what Fox News tells them.
And the sad thing is that this attitude will be passed down to their children, closing up their minds from early on.
In the name of tolerance and a peaceful coexistence: ask questions, listen to people from other cultures and backgrounds, and keep an open mind.