Reflecting Allowed

Maha Bali’s blog about education

If You Don’t Talk To Me…Can I Know You?

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I just came out of a Virtually Connecting session at #OpenEd16 and I wanted to follow up on a point I made… I said something like, there are particular Americans here in Egypt with particular politics. So I am not really exposed to those with different politics enough to actually understand how they got there, right? More than that, I am unsure, given that I am Egyptian, Muslim and wear a headscarf, if “those” Americans would ever really talk to me. If they would want to… If there would be a bridge between our cultures that allows us to meet somewhere in the middle. 

I say this, and I remember that I have a friend whose husband is Republican. And I talk to him. Just haven’t talked to him about politics, is all. So obviously I don’t want to generalize that all Republicans would never talk to a Muslim. That would be ridiculous. And horribly unfair.

But I think about it and I wonder if I knew he was a Trump supporter, how I would feel. I can’t even imagine it. And would I want to talk to him?

I think a lot about how we can only really understand and empathize with the other through sustained interaction and dialogue. But really – what if you can’t find common ground to meet on?

And I think about how, locally, here in Egypt, we often can’t even talk politics at the dinner table. Because we can no longer sustain these conversations with people we didn’t even use to consider “other” to us.

I don’t know where I am going with this. But there’s something we (I?) are doing wrong and I don’t know how to fix it or get anywhere near fixing it

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