Time passes very quickly. Most of the times we spend our present moment in trying to anticipate or plan about the future or to reconcile with the past and the time does not tend to pass. However, there is a lot of time of our lives that we have left behind when we look towards the hindsight.
A few years a go I had a privilege to work in France for one year. I was based in France telecom’s R&D headquarters in Lannion as a researcher. Lannion is a nice little town in the North West of France in its province of Brittany. Like the rest of France, and most of Europe, Lannion is also extremely beautiful. And not only that the people are mostly also very friendly and extremely nice. The year lived in Lannion was very memorable. We were a few Pakistanis in the town who had befriended numerous French, Romanian and people from other nationalities. Together we had loads of fun. I wanted to write a bit more detailed article about my stay in Lannion, but I would save that for another time. I am writing this article for another purpose and a different experience.
I was lodged very close to France Telecom R&D. I could walk to work from home in around 15-20 minutes. This is not much. In order to walk conveniently and to enjoy the experience, I had found a combination of streets that were rather solitary and that were also full of typical Celtic flora and European houses. As I write this, I deeply yearn from inside to go and live there again. Walking to work and back used to be a healthy process that I really enjoyed. Sometimes it rained and I had to take a bus. But normally I preferred to walk. Walking also allowed me to develop new perspectives about my work, as it allowed me ample time to reflect and think about work.
On a few occasions I passed by a small boy in one of the streets. And this is one of the reasons why I am writing this article. I will talk about the other reason latter below. The boy was around 6–8 years old. He’d be going school. He’d be well-dressed, well combed, neat and tidy, with a schoolbag hanging on his back. Whenever he’d pass by me, while robotically walking to the school, he’d say “Bonjour” to me loudly while his eyes were almost always lowered. The only things I clearly remember about him now are that he had blond hair, he’d be wearing large glasses with a brown frame, and that he had blue eyes.
I cannot forget this experience. And I have always wondered that definitely his mother may have taught him to behave nicely to strangers. Of course, such children can also be at a risk of being abused in some way due to their innocence. But the fact that he was being groomed and nurtured very elegantly should not be overlooked. Irrespective of his family background, and our cultural remoteness, I still think about that boy at times. And I think that he deserves enormous praise. I could never muster the courage to ask him his name and related things. All I’d say in return was Bonjour. I was wary that if I reacted in any way more or less than that, the pigeon will fly away, and I would never be able to see him again.
Let me digress a little bit to another topic for a while. This seemingly does not have any relevance with the context of this article. However, this is the second reason why I wanted to write this post. In as much as the two incidents are disconnected, the truth is that they come to my mind simultaneously. So, let us digress to Innocence of the Muslims for a short while. Recently I read somewhere that google has promised, in front of one of the relevant US courts of Law, to remove the movie from YouTube. This is a commendable effort indeed. This would not only allow Government of Pakistan to remove a ban from YouTube, it would also help in subsiding unnecessary rifts between various cultures and civilizations.
When the movie was first released I had a chance to look at the movie a little bit. This is to say that I had a chance to look at the boy and the girl who starred in the movie. The truth is that I had a strong feeling that the people had been duped into playing those roles. This is quite embarrassing for those children as well.
I have a feeling that movies like these are not made without a purpose. One of the purpose they serve is obviously to uproot people. In this case they were Muslims. And in case of the Muslims, the other reason is to gauge the emotional temperature of the Muslim society. People react badly and they are termed as barbaric and terroristic. Indeed, this is a pity.
However, as I said earlier such movies create unnecessary rifts in the human society. As a general impression such movies are also self harming in a moral sense too. On the other hand we can learn so much good from the example of the boy that I quoted above. Irrespective of whether the boy came from a Christian family, or whether his parents had become atheists after loosing all hope on religion, due to its hyper institutionalization or terrorism, the truth is that they groomed him in a nice way to say hello to strangers. Such people should be remembered.