I am sitting at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris at 2am while everyone around me sleeps, it is dark, even the bathrooms are locked. My flight back home is tomorrow morning and we decided to spend the night at the airport in part because we are too poor to stay in a hotel close by, and in part because we did not want to deal with getting to a hotel with our 60 kilos worth of luggage.
Two men come and without shying away from the noise that they make moving and shuffling chairs around sit next to us and begin to talk, I cannot help myself and throw them dirty looks every once in a while – don’t they get it? can’t they just go to the lit area where no one is sleeping and talk, sing, scream do whatever they want there? Away from people that are trying to sleep?
One of the salient aspects of this summer, in my biased and subjective opinion, has been dealing with very rude and inconsiderate people. Not just people that don’t smile or ignore you, rather, people that have no sense of their surrounding and no consideration for people around them. People playing music from their portable radios very loudly in an enclosed area from which you cannot escape (train), smoking in smoke-free zones, talking and laughing at the top of their lungs at 4am in the hotel room next door, cutting in line without any sense of guilt, trying to cheat you out of your money because you look white or look like a tourist, taking food out of your plate (literally) because they think that it is your responsibility to feed them… and the list goes on.
How different these actions are to the standard and potential that we can achieve:
“Therefore strive that your actions day by day may be beautiful prayers. Turn towards God, and seek always to do that which is right and noble. Enrich the poor, raise the fallen, comfort the sorrowful, bring healing to the sick, reassure the fearful, rescue the oppressed, bring hope to the hopeless, shelter the destitute!” Abdu’l-Baha
What is it that makes these people think that they are above the rest? have more rights? think that their comfort and wants are more important than other’s? When we were traveling by train from Rabat to Marrakech it was a young boy that was playing music out of his radio, with his parents sitting right next to him paying no attention to him. It would seem that most people that act in certain ways have probably been acting this way from an early age and no one ever told them to do otherwise. It is no excuse, they are adults now and they have to make choices and decisions, they have the maturity to distinguish between right and wrong. It just goes to show how important education is, not only formal (academic) education, but an education that stresses the development of spiritual qualities and attributes, an education that strives to bring the best out of each human and does not ignore the potential of each child.
“Regard man as a mine rich in gems of inestimable value. Education can, alone, cause it to reveal its treasures, and enable mankind to benefit therefrom.” – Baha’u’llah