This is a little vignette -- a story about my cab ride last night and how my cab driver and I had a conversation that brought a bit more ease and peace between our two countries. Little conversations count. Little exchanges of peace...there will be a tipping point.
Here it is...
After a 24 hour journey from Brazil back to DC, I decided to treat myself to a cab back to my apartment. The cab driver noted how nice it was to have a singing client...guess I was.
He said "you must not be from the east coast."
I laughed and said "I'm from New York, but maybe it was the 5 years living in San Francisco. How long have you lived here?"
"And before that?" I asked
"Afganistan," he replies as we drive past the Pentagon.
"You know what I think of when I think of Afghanistan?" I asked
"What?" I imagined he thought I would say something about the war, the soldiers, the pain.
"The Book of Kells!" I said.
"What's that?" He asked.
"It's a Bible from the 6th Century that is so beautifully illustrated that people visit it from around the world. It's located now in Dublin. Do you know why it makes me think of Afghanistan?"
"Because the only place they could get the color blue in the 6th Century was from the land we now call Afghanistan."
"Oh, yes," he said "In the northern mountains that's where the blue rock is. We have lots of jewelry that color. "
He asked me a bunch of questions about what BC, BCE, AD and CA meant. I told him about how the refer to the calendar in relation to the birth and death of christ, but that in academic circles, the calendar is spoken about as "Before the common era" or "in the Common Era." This is a way to talk about the date for those who do not want to refer to Christ.
He then told me it was the year 14-something in the Muslim calendar. He said their calendar began after the death of the Prophet Mohammad. Ah! but we didn't know what year Mohammed was born and then spent the rest of the cab ride trying to figure out when Mohammed lived and the state of Islam in relation to the creation of the Book of Kells. Was Islam existent in the Northern Mountains when the traders came for the blue color to make their Bible? Was the color blue traded through the Silk Road?
We wondered, explored, and tried to imagine the trade route from his home to Ireland back in the 6th Century. it felt like a National Geographic special. I'd much rather consider the world through color, history, and trade than through the lens of distrust, violence and war. That's what we did....