Four men come in to the store. They appear to be of Middle Eastern descent and are wearing Muslim clothing and speaking in Arabic. They are very nice to the baristas, take their coffee to a corner, laugh, talk and generally seem to enjoy their time in the store. Then they leave.
And I feel myself physically relax. The tension leaving me is palpable. And as I look around the store, I can see a change in several of the faces around the room.
And now I feel horrible. I always try to be open minded. Always look for the best in people; to give them the benefit of the doubt. I truly believe you can’t blame an entire race of people for the acts of a few extremists.
But I had a reaction. A visceral reaction.
It leaves me wondering what life must be like for those men. They had to have felt the change in the store when they came in. They probably feel it every where they go.
I know nothing about them, except that they like coffee. They could have lived here their entire lives. They could own a non-profit that is saving the lives of local children. They could be discovering the cure for cancer that may save my life someday.
I don’t know them. I just know that this time I had a reaction. And maybe next time I won’t. Maybe by sharing this, next time you won’t either.