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Unexpected Emotion

May 21, 2013

Like, I hope, everyone else who read about them, I was disgusted by the crimes perpetrated by the Oxford sex ring men against young white girls.  What shocked me, however, was my own immediate reaction.  It had nothing to do with the girls, or even the perpetrators.  It was, instead, anger that the journalists had branded the perpetrators “Pakistani muslims”, and a sort of protectiveness of those Pakistanis I meet on a daily basis.

We’ve only lived here for 4 months now, but I’ve been met with nothing but courtesy and kindness.  I’ve seen nothing of the patriarchal oppressive society that the mind instantly conjures up when you mention Pakistan.

On reflection this is undoubtedly less because it doesn’t exist than because I live in a bubble.  I’m a (comparatively) rich, privileged westerner living in a country in which I’ve not yet seen a lawn mower because that would deprive the man with a sickle from a job.   And I wonder just how many muslims I’ve properly interacted with.  There was one with whom we had dinner last week at a friend’s house, but he was, again, rich and educated in the west at the best US colleges – a far cry from the scum in Oxford.   The men who I meet on a daily basis are generally Christian.

I have realised that I’m living in a country about which I know almost nothing.  I am not able to visit large parts of it because of the security risk, and I wonder just how much I will know of it by the time we leave.

It’s another chink in the wall of certainty which I built when I was a teenager.  I knew everything and could talk about anything with absolute conviction, despite a complete absence of fact, knowledge or background.

I think John Adams summed it up rather well:

The longer I live, the more I read, the more patiently I think, and the more anxiously I inquire, the less I seem to know…

Or is it just because I don’t want to know?

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