Monday, September 19, 2005

Catholics and Muslims and Jews, Oh My!

For the second weekend this month I saw Muslims in a Baptist church. This time they weren't there to learn about volunteering Katrina-style (though I heard 2500 of the 30,000 trained for Operation Compassion were Muslims). They were teachers who were attending a relocated convention that was initially scheduled for the George R. Brown but got booted because of evacuees.

There were probably several other religious affilations in attendance at the teachers gathering. I know there were some out and out mean people because I encountered them as I walked to and from the conference rooms our little workshop was using totally separate from the teachers. But my different nametag didn't provide obstacle enough for these demanding women. They stopped me in route more than once and more than once with almost physical force to inform me that I had to tell them where some room was. Ignoring my protests that I wasn't with their meeting, they assured me that it was my responsibility to get them to the toddler room. Never one to argue with a toddler's teacher who is shoving her finger in my face, I complied.

After my fifth walk down the jammed corridor picking up trash these "ladies" had tossed aside with little care or concern, I began to wonder about our educational system! I know plenty of caring, compassionate teachers who value property as well as personal growth but this meeting really had an overabundance of apathy going for it.

Then I saw the Muslim women -- heads covered, caring for one another, insuring that all needs were met. Their silk scarves covering their hair and allowing for just enough of a "superwoman" effect as they quickly walked to their next meeting "capes" wafting in the wind they created.

The next day I saw a TV news piece on women in the Middle East voting. They were covered from head to toe, only a small slit for their eyes allowed them the ability to see where to put their folded page, registering their vote. I was struck by the juxtaposition of women with little privilege enjoying the privilege of a vote. And I was struck by the great spectrum of diversity even among a group similar in their beliefs. The teachers wore their covering as adornment. The berkas seemed more like prison.

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