Ignorance, Discrimination, and When I’m Guilty

It’s surprising how often angels show up in the form of nosy strangers invading my personal space.
I was in a supremely rotten mood the other morning. I had time alone, so I decided to take myself out for a breakfast date and curl up in an isolated booth with my Kindle until the cloud lifted.
After about two minutes of reading and eating, I realized I had seated myself next to the restaurant’s second entrance (I didn’t even know they had one), and now that there was more traffic, people couldn’t help but be startled to walk directly into the woman eating with her feet.
Irritated at my own stupidity, I buried my face into my Kindle and pretended humans didn’t exist. Until one slowly walked past me and said, “Interesting.”I looked up, and in my best Buzz Off voice said,”Uh, thanks.”
A moment later, to my astonishment, he came back and asked if he could share my booth.
I agreed, again not attempting to hide my irritation. Was it not clear as day that I wanted to be left alone??
He sat and asked about my disability, asked if it hurt to eat, we talked about my family, book, and even a little religion. He shared about his brother with a disability, and what a wonderful person he was. As the conversation progressed, I warmed up and cleared the junk that I’d so rudely left in front of him on the table. My voice became animated. I smiled.
We swapped business cards so he could keep up with my book, and he was on his way.
I was left to finish my breakfast and think. I’ve had plenty of experience with discrimination and ignorance in my life, no doubt about that. But for me to assume I can spot them without engaging with the person makes me the ignorant one.
This man was clearly not looking to judge me or assume anything. He wanted to learn. He wanted to know what my experience was. This is exactly how we fight ignorance. It wasn’t his fault I was in a bad mood, or that I was making judgments about him.
Just because I’ve been trodden on does not make me righteous. Just because I’ve been treated unfairly doesn’t mean I’m incapable of doing the same.
We are born completely ignorant, and it is a lifelong journey to move away from that. Let none of us forget to keep walking.

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