Sunday, July 27, 2008

the $2.80 taxi ride (worth a million bucks)

Allow me to introduce you to the new voice telling the story of West / Middle East dynamics. His name is Samir and he drives a taxi in Amman, Jordan.

It was Samir who I happened to flag down for my cross town trip the other day. I quickly realized that here was a man--a small, smiley man--who actually spoke less English than I speak Arabic. That's not saying much, but time for me to practice. With few words, we covered the basics about our names, homes, families, etc. Samir, a Palestinian, then took it to the next level by pointing to his prayer rug and asking me if I am a Muslim and whether I believe in one God. I knew he wouldn't understand much, but I responded by saying something to the effect of, "Well, yes, one God, but I follow Jesus."--half in Arabic, half in English. I freaked out and almost jumped out of the car when he then flashed a knife. No, I'm lying, he did not do that! Sorry about the scare. But doesn't our perspective tell us to half expect a story like that? What Samir really did was continue to smile and use his hands and Arabic to communicate, "You and me, friends, brothers." Beyond that, he spent the remainder of our time together in the taxi trying to make me understand that any Arab-American conflict (Israel was his example) is among the governments, but that between the people there are no problems. Accordingly, we smiled again and shook hands fondly before I got out of the car. Once more before he sped off, he waved out the window to me: "Bye Joe."

It's slightly unrealistic to think that everyone everywhere expresses the sentiment of Samir's heart, but maybe, instead of driving a taxi, he should be using his voice to influence more people in the global community.


Melissa said...

I love this story, these taxi rides are examples of why you are there- and tangible stories you can share with others.

anjuli paschall said...

Hi joe! I love this story- cool little things like this bring encouragement. love to you both!

anjuli paschall said...

i liked this entry more when i read it a second time. it had a different impact on me :)

Miriam Maneevone said...

Thanks for sharing this spark of friendship and understanding. More communication like you and Samir creates harmony at the important levels of life. Thanks for being a good ambassador of peace.
Love you both,

Leila said...

and he is soooo right! This is exactly what i try to tell people... that for the most part (at least most Arabs i know) between individual people, there are few problems-- the problems exist between the governments and the mentality that we can't coexist and that we have to draw lines between what's mine and yours!!! as if any of it is really ours!!!