I jumped a cab in the city yesterday to rush back to a meeting and found myself sitting next to a tall (that was apparent even though he was sitting down) young man in a salwar kameez. And wearing a Taliban style beard, the luxurious growth of which was in stark contrast to the short cropped brown hair on his head. He was tanned and his eyes were black and lively. He was just back from Pakistan (visiting family) and which he volunteered was a complete mess with the Bhutto and her death. He iterated a theme common to these drivers (there are ten or so of these taxi stories under this Category) that simply being that, though he was qualified to do other things, he was glad he was driving a taxi in a country where he did not have to worry about being caught up in political violence. I questioned how he, a Moslem, reconciled his ability to live in what is ostensibly a Christian country against the tenets of Islam. He rightly pointed out that neither the Koran or the Bible, and neither the Prophet or Jesus would condone any unneighbourly behaviour being exercised in their names. We both agreed the true heart of those religions called for compassion and forgiveness – though as a Moslem he felt God was more interested in exercising his righteous judgement than forgiving. That is where our religions differ. But we were in enthusiastic agreement that God, of the Bible and the Koran, called us to live peaceably with each other and with the interests of our neighbours at heart. It was only a ten minute ride but we covered a lot of ground.
I love that I can have these direct and deep conversations with our cabbies. Sadly, and ironically, it is not so easy to have these conversations with my neighbours. I paid my fare and, with his black eyes twinkling, in somnolent tones he wished peace on my day. I wished it on him. Then he was gone.
And my day was peaceful.
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