The first night the shops reopened after christ -mess , on the bus homeward bound there were teenagers being teenagers, two had approached me seeking to pat the dog.. one never knows whether to take teenagers seriously, i have learned the hard way at home, however they seemed sincere, their accent revealed to me a mid eastern origin..
“Where are you from ?”, one boy wearing a baseball cap had asked me the most typical swiss question and probably the only place where one is asked so openly only to have mostly a hostile reaction should one be of the wrong ethnicity, and being israeli is not exactly the favourite flavour …
“International”, i sought to escape politics..
“And where are you from ?” i had asked.
“Tunis”, answered the boy,
“I suppose in Tunis dogs are not the same as here in switzerland”, i proceeded, and the boy admitted dogs were dangerous in Tunis, as they often could be suspected of carrying rabies, the very dangerous disease contracted through a bite , and huge problem in countries where there is too little animal control, and also biases against dogs, as there are in most world cultures seeing them dirty, dangerous and a threat.
“Always ask the owner, some small dogs tend to bite, this one has been raised with children so she is used to children”, i cautioned.
The two boys who had patted the dog seemed very excited, it might have been the first time they had patted a dog, it was a breakthrough for them as i thought of all the hurdles and inter cultural barriers they must face , and traditional conservative Swiss people would be number one though sometimes those expectations for racist intolerance tend to surprise favourablly and some elderly people break the mold …
I thought about what it must be like to say you are from Tunis after the recent attack on a German Christmas market by a young man from Tunis. I could only feel for those who of no fault of their own are grouped and generalised and i vowed not to fall into the old traps of generalisations which are generally wrong because the individuals who make up a culture are NOT responsible for the acts of other individuals who choose to be violent and yet as i observed the boys on the bus loud and boisterous , i felt sad for them when i thought of all the SVP Swiss right wing posters against foreigners and backward people they had to face, and as a person from the middle east who does not have the safety net of a close community of like minded, individualistic people rarely do, i felt for them both the sorrow of future obstacles as well as the joy of remaining unafraid and perhaps unaware of the fear that the right wing politicians have constructed suffocating so many conversations between people of different ethnic groups and just how sad is a world where multi culturalism is killed off before it can attempt to take off and fly?