Some days you just get tired of talking about politics, world issues, and other stressful ideas. You need a break from the constant drone of bickering that seems to drown out all that’s good in the world. But even when you find a story that gives you hope, that makes you smile, it somehow can’t avoid being tainted by today’s realities.
Canadian Press reported this story about a Muslim cabbie in New York City, an Orthodox Jewish Diamond dealer from Montreal, and a briefcase full of diamonds. A typical tale of the harried businessman rushing to catch a flight and forgetting a piece of his luggage; except that it wasn’t because of who the two men were.
“In a situation like that, you don’t think. What is he, Jewish, Buddhist, or Muslim? He’s just a human being working hard for his money.” (Cabby Hossam Abdalla)
While his passenger’s religion may not have mattered to Mr. Abdalla, it certainly mattered to the press who reported on the matter, and to readers like me, whose eye was caught by the headline for the story. Muslim and Jew in the same heading are sure to catch the eye of most readers. With the parties involved acting like decent human beings towards each other it becomes even more riveting.
I was interested to watch my own reactions to the story. From the initial, oh isn’t that nice, something that’s not about hatred or people killing each other, to, it’s a sad commentary on today’s world that this is news. At some point between those points, my writer instincts kicked in and imagined a possible relationship developing between the two men.
What kind of pitfalls did a friendship between an Orthodox Jew and a Muslim face? How would they fit into each other’s worlds? Not only do they have the barrier of creed to overcome, but also social class. Would the wealth of the one become a matter of resentment for the other? When it began to sound like the treatment for a movie destined for the Sundance festival, I let the idle speculation grind to a halt for the moment.
There is no reason why, in an ideal world, this story should have made the papers. Its only reason for existing is that it concerned a Muslim and a Jew. How sad is it that two people treating each other with respect becomes news? The briefcase full of diamonds, which should have been the major focus of the story, is secondary to the religion of the two men.