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.