Folks all over the world have heard by now that a clever child in Texas built a clock and took it to school to share it with his teacher, and the situation exposed the level of xenophobia that is on many surfaces of our society.
Xenophobia is defined as an unreasonable fear or hatred of foreigners or strangers or of that which is foreign or strange. And the incredible irony about the level of xenophobia exhibited in this country, America, at various times in our history, is that it is at conflict with so much of our country’s character and habits. For instance, we love Greek salads, we love pizza and pasta, we love Chinese buffets, we love French fries, we love tacos and quesadillas, we have Thai restaurants and a long list of other cuisines. And Americans love to travel; they are found all over the world, risking their lives on Everest, paddling down the Amazon River, on safari (hopefully photo safari) in Africa.
But let a gentle fourteen year old boy be so clever as to build his own clock, a device which was readily identifiable within minutes of being viewed, and a true mess erupts. Now the world has seen that same fourteen year old child handcuffed and arrested. The good news is that this young child has been offered a full scholarship at a well-reputed scientific-based school and has received encouragement from many different, local, and influential sources such as our President and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The unfortunate news is that the school where this happened did nothing to protect the child, and the town where this happened is managed by a mayor and apparently a police chief who cannot admit that they erred.
This young man is of the Muslim faith, a fact which should make no difference whatsoever in how he was treated. Protestants, Catholics, and Muslims all embrace faith in their religions.
Faith is defined in the dictionary as “a strong or unshakeable belief in something, especially without proof or evidence.” Another young man, dealing with lack of acceptance by his own Catholic religion because he is gay, described faith this way: “Faith is that hope for something better.” We must hope for something better not only for these two young men, but for ourselves and our planet.