I am ashamed of myself.
I am waiting in the immigration line at Denpasar Airport and in front of me is a young couple with a child about twelve months of age in a stroller. I take a good look at them both and immediately make terrible assumptions and come to some awful conclusions. She is wearing hijab and niqab and he has a large full beard.
I mean hadn’t we all heard the terrorism warnings for Bali over this holiday period, maybe this was it? Was this to be the last time I boarded a plane? My imagination began to run wild as I considered all of the possibilities. Please please don’t be on my flight! Maybe I should cancel and go tomorrow?
I notice they are holding Australian passports, but this means nothing. As we approach the head of the queue, the husband went off to the right with the pram, and the wife to the left. Surely this is confirmation of their bad intentions. I wanted to tell someone – quick! Look at them, they are travelling together but checking in separately! Why would they do that?! Surely somebody noticed, maybe someone observing the CCTV had seen it and would question them.
They rejoined each other and slowly walked ahead of me. Did they have shopping, because surely that could be a good sign, you know plans for the future and all. I can’t tell. The baby is dressed in Bali clothing, maybe that’s good too, because surely they wouldn’t be dressing their baby like that if they have a problem with Bali. Then again maybe it’s all a façade. Maybe the baby means I am safe, but then again, isn’t giving your life the greatest sacrifice for some people?! I don’t know I don’t know I don’t know!
I consider changing my flight as my anxiety levels rise, but think better of it. If this is the day I am to die, then so be it, nothing I do can change that.
I lose sight of them eventually and they don’t appear to be at my gate.
Then a terrible feeling of shame overcomes me. How dare I judge an innocent young couple enjoying their holiday like that? What an awful thing it was for me to make horrible judgments based on appearances. I wonder how many other people judged them in this way and if they were aware of the looks, glances and assumptions being made. I am sure many people do either obviously or subtly. How dreadful to live with that, every day, every where you go.
Is it the media frightening us with propaganda? Is it prejudice I was previously unaware of? I’m the first person to get upset and angry when my husband and I are subject to prejudices based on appearances, and here I was doing the very same thing. I can’t believe I just stereotyped these people!
Whatever it is I feel very ashamed that I had such dreadful thoughts about this innocent young family.
We are all one race, the human race.