Fear of the Unknown
While hiking the other day with my son, I spotted a larger than normal, or average sized American male, hiking towards us along the trail. Since we were hiking a winding path in the woods, we lost sight of each other, but I knew that we were to ultimately cross paths. Once the man and his son met with us along the singletrack, I encountered the most unusual dialogue:
“ Oh, hey man. I saw you from far away, and noticed you had a beard.”
The man gestured in a circular motion in front of his jowls.
“Since you disappeared, I just assumed that you were a Muslim.”
On my end… Silence.
I must have looked at him quizzically, as I was not sure how to reply. This must be the new fear in the woods of Southwestern Ohio. MUSLIMS!
The farther I walked away, in disbelief I might add, the more and more confused I became. What if I were a Muslim? Are all Muslims terrorists? Clearly this buffoon was relating Islam with terrorists, and the more my son and I hiked the more I wanted to explain to this country bumpkin how the world works. There are WAY more things to be afraid of in the woods than a Muslim, let alone one of the extremist variety. I would be more concerned meeting a card-carrying member of the NRA or KKK for that matter.
After a while, my mind faded the encounter to the backburner, and my son and I found a great place to stop and have our lunch. Only later, a simple but scary thought crossed my mind: This man’s vote counts as much as mine.