No Good Deed…

Yesterday, I was driving to the grocery store, thinking about how mad the world has gone and how helpless I feel about everything. I don’t know how things came to be this way, and I don’t know what to do to stop this slow motion political train wreck from happening. Nothing I do as an individual will ever be good enough.

While I was in the grocery store, I bought some flowers and decided to drop them off at the Idriss Mosque on the way home. I can’t imagine what it must be like to feel as if you are surrounded by people who want you gone, and I wanted them to know that not everyone feels that way. In fact, the majority of us do not feel that way.

When I pulled in to their parking lot, there were several cars there, and I certainly did not want to disturb them in the middle of prayers, so I decided to simply leave the flowers on their front porch with a note.

As I approached, there was a woman standing on the sidewalk around the corner. She was a tiny, older woman. I really took little notice of her. I assumed she was waiting for a bus or a ride or something. But as I was leaving, she confronted me and asked me what I was doing.

When I told her I was leaving flowers, she asked me why, so I told her I wanted to give support to people who were being discriminated against.

In a thick accent, she then began quizzing me as to my family background, and I said Danish, and she shouted that I was not an American, then, and that I had better take care of myself instead of worrying about anyone else.

When I told her I couldn’t disagree more, she pointed at my flowers and said they were bullshit, and that I called them Islamic f*****s. As I walked away, I said I would never call anyone that. The hatred in her eyes is something I will never forget.

I went back to my car and wondered if she was going to throw the flowers away. That bothered me a great deal. But I knew I couldn’t sit there, guarding the flowers all day. So I left.

As I drove home, I grew very upset. Here I tried to do something good, and this woman had made me feel much worse. But was I leaving the flowers just so I could feel good? If so, then maybe that woman was right. Maybe they were bullshit, and I wasn’t doing it with a pure heart after all.

I came home and I sat down and I cried. I cried for me. I cried for the mosque. I cried for humanity in general. And I am still left with the feeling that nothing I do will ever be enough.

The experience was very surreal. I suspect there are lessons I will learn from it as I reflect on it over time. The only thing that I’m certain of is that I really did hope for a positive outcome.

I don’t know what that woman expected to achieve. I don’t know why she perceived me as being such a toxic force and felt the need to respond in kind. I just hope that one experience with a random hate-filled crazy woman will not keep me from trying, in my admittedly inadequate way, to heal some of the wounds in this world.

Update: Recently I received a lovely card from Idriss Mosque. It said, “Thank you for your continued support and friendship.”  I’m glad they got my message, and the encounter with the crazy woman was not their fault. I wish them well.

Check out my refreshingly positive book for these depressingly negative times.

12 thoughts on “No Good Deed…

  1. lyn sutton

    It’s difficult to help heal another’s wounds when you are feeling so raw and wounded yourself. We’re all wounded by the negative forces that have been stirring the fear pot…even those who think they want this. We need to face down our individual fears before we can help each other out of this communal pot. Perhaps if you return to the Mosque and ask what support would actually benefit them you’d be one step closer to that positive outcome.

    “I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”
    ― Frank Herbert, Dune

  2. Lady your heart was in the right place. Remember the reason you decided to bring them in the first place. To help them know not everyone is against them. Problem is, they have been feeling it for a long time, and its hard to trust.

    Keep doing what you do!

  3. Elaine

    You are doing the correct thing. We all need to look to our moral compass in these trying days and maintain a course of compassion and solidarity as best we can. That said, after reading your entry I had to look up information about mosques in my city. It seems that we do not have one here. I was surprised since it is a university town. At any rate, I will offer my assistance to anyone who needs it, regardless of creed or color. That has always been my stance and it won’t change now.

      1. Elaine

        There is an Islamic Center very close to the main university, but it is a house. I passed it on my way to work for years.

  4. Lynn Fitz-Hugh

    I love that you did this. I’m sorry someone treated you badly. However, I think your original idea was to break through their experience of people treating them badly. Sometimes when we stand up as allies for people who are targeted, hateful people turn their attention on us….which it sounds like is what happened to you. I suspect that if she did not remove the flowers that the members of the Mosque were still touched by what you left.

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