Sep 22, 2007

On Ramadan, Neighbors, and Good Will

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I have been enjoying Ramadan this year even though I am not a Muslim. We have neighbors who are of Lebanese descent, and they have been practicing the ritual of Iftar by bringing my family fattoush and lamb soup after sundown.

Ours is a curious friendship, as our neighbors struggle with English, while my knowledge of Arabic is quite limited beyond courtesy words such as shukran ("thank you") and cuss words I learned as kid from my Arabic neighbors. Yet there are distinct advantages to the process of making friends with these fine people.

My wife, the mathematics whiz, has helped tutor a few of their children in math, and has helped the family with government forms like taxes. In return, we get a ton of delicious food, advice on mechanical matters, and free lessons in Arabic.

Some might quote David Ricardo and call this an example of comparative advantage, but I prefer to think that each family really benefits from neighborliness and good will more than any material aspects of the relationships that have evolved.

And to Representative Peter King: perhaps the problem is not the number of mosques in the United States, but the fact that too many Americans have been trained to fear their Muslim neighbors. Maybe American Muslims would not be so frightening to people like Peter King if they spent a few minutes getting to know their Islamic neighbors.

1 comment:

-Sepp said...

Ramaddan is the time for best eating you'll find. A lot of Arabs will go all the way to Dearborn to get the "real" stuff you can't get in Toledo. You know, lamb meat that actually has lamb as an ingredient? Can't find it in Toledo!