Monday, 16 November 2015

"So what if a few dozen people

were killed? It happens all the time in places like Syria."
 The speaker was a young Muslim student of my acquaintance. He comes from Indonesia. He did not appear to be in the least bit concerned by the events in Paris. Indeed, to the contrary, I have a very nasty suspicion he thoroughly approved of them. 
He lives locally in a house with other Indonesian students. I think he has another year to go on his degree before he returns to his father's business in Indonesia. 
In Indonesia his family is wealthy. His father is a very important man. They employ servants. At home he can have pretty much whatever he wants just by demanding it.
When he first came here he expected the girls who live in the same house to wait on him hand and foot. He expected them to do his washing and ironing, get his meals, and do the washing up. He expected them to do all the cleaning.
The other boys who live in the house quickly disabused him of that idea but he still does the bare minimum and with poor grace. Women are there to serve him. 
I don't think anything will change him. He has been here long enough now to see that things are done very differently here. The other boys acknowledge that. The mother of one of them told me, rather shyly, that being here has been good for her son as he now "much kinder to ladies". Yes, her son observed and took note but  this boy is not going to do that.
He thinks it doesn't matter. He isn't a radical. He's too lazy for that to ever happen. He likes comfort too much for that.
He is doing the bare minimum to get through his degree - and woe betide the lecturer who dares to give him less than a credit even though he, at most, deserves a pass. 
The other students in the house don't like him. I don't blame them. They are stuck with him for a variety of complex reasons. Most of the time they don't argue with him. 
Yesterday one of them did. One of the girls said quietly, "Everyone matters."
And then one of the boys quoted Donne: 

No man is an island entire of itself; every man 
is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; 
if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe 
is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as 
well as any manner of thy friends or of thine 
own were; any man's death diminishes me, 
because I am involved in mankind. 
And therefore never send to know for whom 
the bell tolls; it tolls for thee. 

And he quoted the entire verse accurately. The boy who had been arguing with them walked out. The boy who had quoted it looked at me for some help in explaining it to the others. I did. I did not ask where he had come across it although I would like to know.
I left thinking perhaps there is still a little bit of hope left - because the boy who quoted it is a devout Muslim.


Helen Devries said...

A devout muslim could well approve of those lines of Donne - if not of his more adventurous stuff!
Yes, that does give hope.

Anonymous said...

Those who die every day in places like that die at the hands of people who supposedly follow the same god.