Friday, October 13, 2006

Conversations on the road

I rarely wish to engage in conversations with random people I meet regarding the things I write about here. The main reason for that is that people usually fall into one of two categories. The first are willfully ignorant of the situation. Their naïve questions and world views can easily amount to an insult. Never the less, once asked a naïve question I cannot help but provide a lengthy answer. The second group is the harshly opinionated. People, who do get updates, are aware of at least one side of the story but refuse to listen to anything which might burst their bubble. Arguing rapidly seems futile. Somehow I do get dragged into such conversations with strangers.

Two examples of such discussions which have happened in the last two months; on the first occasion, I met a stranger in an airport. He was an elderly stranger who sat next to me at the airport burger king. For some odd reason he began talking to me (uninvited). He started telling me how he used to work in the pentagon, how he knows and met Israeli leaders, how familiar he is with the Bush family etc. None of this I wished to know. He brought up this information to let me know what he thought about the Lebanon war. How he thought that Israel was in real trouble and how they lost the war (I excuse you from the expletives he used). He went on to tell me how stupid he thinks G.W Bush is. How he admires Rabin, and what an extremist Benjamin Netanyahu.

Between him chewing his whopper with his mouth open, to his age, to his zeal, I chose not to argue. I smiled, responded with a few generic observations without going into details and as soon as I could – shook his hand and said good bye. In case you’re wondering he was in the second group – harshly opinionated.

Another conversation happened to me recently with a cab driver on my way to a different airport. He said he deliberately avoids listening to the news and gets updates about once in two months. He asked me if all people really live in a war zone in Israel. I think for the next 10 minutes, while sitting in a traffic Jam, I gave my best effort to describe what is happening, has happened and why. Most importantly I stressed out that from my knowledge, most Israelis live their life as if there is and was no war. As if they are not surrounded by millions striving to murder them. People live in apartments, go to work, send their kids to school and are usually just going through a normal life.

I did not go into details but did mention that life gets destroyed by random acts of terror, by imposed states of war, or how the latest war devastated the north.

I do not know if my conversations with people changed the way they view things. I assume the 5 to 10 minutes they spent with me, a stranger, made little difference on them.

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