Thursday, November 03, 2011

Dona Nobis Pacem

Several years ago Mimi started the Blog Blast for Peace as a way for folks to all say in unison that our greatest desire is for peace.  Blogs give a good way for folks all across to globe to express that wish together.  Although there are nations that block Internet access in a variety of ways it is still a channel through which there seems to be a greater freedom of movement for ideas.  We've all heard about how Twitter and such facilitated so many protests across the Middle East or allowed for news from eyewitnesses to other events over the years to get out when authorities had silenced official news sources.  It's just an empowering forum for folks who refused to be stifled when it really matters.

No doubt there will be lots of reasons people give today for participating.  Aside from the obvious desire for a more peaceful world, which seems like such a broad, general, Miss America sort of thing sometimes, I want to put a face to why I want peace.  Though we could touch on wars that are occurring all across the globe and how to end them I think we are better served by preventing them in the first place.  Consider the quote in the graphic above as you read.

As you know I went to Seattle back in September.  I did all the typical touristy things and had a wonderful time.  I bought a bunch of stuff, some of it was for me and some was for other people.  As I was looking for some small thing for my girls I came across a gentleman who etches names on grains of rice and then places them in small glass vials with colored liquid to magnify the rice so it can be read.  The vials are turned into pendants or key chains.  I thought they were kind of cool and unique little souvenirs and the price was right so I decided to get one for each of my girls.  When I wrote down their names for the man he immediately looked at me with a sly grin and remarked, "Greek names."  (I don't actually use their real names here on the blog)  I smiled back and said yes because we are Greek.  We continued to chat pleasantly.  I paid and bid him a good day before leaving.  Later I decided I wanted one for myself and that it would read Lime on one side and Michelle on the other.

I returned to the shop where this gentleman works and made my request.  We greeted each other and talked a bit during which he revealed he was Turkish and had come to the US 13 years ago not knowing any English at the time.  As he worked I asked how exactly he got into doing such tiny work, noting he did it without a magnifying glass or even glasses on his face.  He smiled and said he had been an electronics engineer in Turkey.  I asked if he hoped to return to that field one day.  He nodded and said he had tried but since 9/11/01 it had become impossible because his specialty was electronics engineering as it related to air traffic control.  He shared how, once he had learned English, he had applied for a job and progressed in the hiring process only to be told he should withdraw his application due to being from a Muslim country.  As he told his story it was related without any trace of bitterness, just very matter of fact.

At this point I began to well up as I considered how bright a mind he must possess to be in that field and how he had been reduced to carving the names of tourists on grains of rice.  I said I was so very sorry for the discrimination he had faced in this country. He shrugged and replied, "I did not come here for myself.  I came for my daughters."  Then he beamed as he told me the eldest was now in medical school.  I was dabbing my eyes quite a lot by then.



We continued to talk as he worked.  When he was done and I had paid I took him by the hand, looked into his eye as I told him, "I wish only blessings, prosperity, and peace for you and your family.  I am sorry again for the discrimination you've had here but at the very least, in this place Greeks and Turks can be at peace with each other."

I participate today because no one who is willing to transplant themselves for the well-being of their family and then work hard to learn a new language in order to apply his or her skills should be met automatically with suspicion.  Greeting a stranger with immediate suspicion is no way to build understanding which leads to peace, but it is the way to create bitterness which leads to conflict.  To this man's credit he seemed to have none but one could understand if he did.

30 comments:

Craig said...

Thanks for this, Michelle. . .

I work with a number of Russian engineers, most of whom are working well below what they were trained to do, under bosses who are less trained than they are. . .

silly rabbit said...

How tragic that his talents are wasted, though I have to admit that I am very impressed by his rice etching. There's nothing wrong with his creativity. I can't imagine thinking up such an activity as rice etching.
Good for you lime for showing him how people should be... and for him for not being bitter. We need more people like the two of you.

Hilary said...

What a nice memento of this story. Both of you are inspiring in your own ways. You're a gem for telling him what you did. He's a gem for not being bitter.

Cricket said...

A touching story well told. I think I will leave it at that. Your story speaks for itself.

G-Man said...

Turkey and Greece are a natural.
Nice story Trini...:-)

Brian Miller said...

rock on line...thanks for sharing their story and you are right...no one should...

Logophile said...

It would be a better world, that's for sure

Bijoux said...

We were all immigrants here at one time (unless, of course, you can claim 100% native american blood). Always sad to hear of discrimination.

Ivanhoe said...

What a story! Too much discrimination in this world. And we do not even have to leave US... Peace to you today and always!

Beach Bum said...

I am sure your story will be the bright spot for my day. There maybe some hope for the human race after all.

Suldog said...

Wow. This is an incredibly moving piece, my friend. Thank you for sharing that story. God bless us all...

Bijoux said...

Hey, nothing to do with this post, but I was watching House Hunters Intl last night and they were in Trinidad and mentioned 'limeing' - so of course, I thought of you!!!

Anndi said...

Your post is etched on my heart now... thank you for sharing this story.

ειρήνη

Craver Vii said...

Though I'm not a great fan of Thoreau, I do appreciate the sentiment of this post. Lime, I am also impressed by you, how you turned a "chance encounter" into a really cool time of blessing for this gent as well as for your readers.

Karen Jo said...

That is a very moving story. That man is a true peacemaker for not being bitter about the discrimination against him. We need more people like the both of you. Peace be to you today and every day.

witnessing am i said...

This is lovely. And you hit upon the peace we all should strive for -- that one to one in our daily lives. Nothing too big, nothing global, just one person to another.

This is really nice.

Mama Zen said...

That's such a shame!

Finding Pam said...

This is a touching story. This man would do anything for his children even give up his career. I am thankful that you expressed your concern for him.

Peace be with you always.

MADelineWoe said...

I think that peace talks and UN meetings should just be slide shows of your kids. And to be realistic and not greedy about it.

I enjoyed your story. Some would see the electronic job as a better position in life, but I see the businessman artisan a much better job. Self employed. His own boss and his kid is going to Med School. He has a handle on the curve ball that bigotry and prejudgement placed on him. He is the victor. This man knows peace. I am humbled by it. Thank you for sharing.

secret agent woman said...

That's a wonderful story. And really, peace has to be gained on the personal level to be gained on the world level.

Dave said...

I agree with your centiments Michelle. It is sad that the world has got into such a mess that people distrust one another now - Dave

Adelle Laudan said...

I pray my children live to see a world at peace. Thank you for sharing such a powerful message. Peace be with you and yours always.

RennyBA said...

Great to see you on board and I know you've seen mine too :-)
Also here to say hello and thanks for all your support :-)

Jocelyn said...

You had a Greek/Turkish moment of peace there on the West Coast? *Dabs eyes herself*

Tabor said...

Congrats on your post of he week. It is a story well told and you clearly are a sensitive and loving person. You made his day much better with your short talk. I have also encountered people from other countries (doctors, engineers,teachers, doing menial work because they cannot pursue careers in this country. It seems such a waste of talent.

TexWisGirl said...

you have shared your tears with another today. thanks to hilary and her POTW, you touched my heart. God bless you and that man and his family...

ds said...

Here via Hilary's, and so very glad I am. Amen, and...
thank you!

spokalulu said...

Hilary was so very right. I'm glad I stopped by and read, with damp eyes and applause in my heart.

Barb said...

You give peace a personal face - it is a story that reverberates. Congrats on your POTW.

Annelisa said...

Inspiring!

Please return to that shop one day, and tell the man he has the respect of folk all over the world!

And respect to you to, Lime!

And peace to you and yours x

[A link to your post will be on my blog 'Peace Bloggers Unite' soon]