Great works of art usually produce a common consequence - they tend to tug at your emotions or make you think differently about preconceived notions. I saw two such great motion pictures over the weekend. I will talk about one of them here.
It was a 30 Days documentary by Morgan Spurlock (the star and director of the award winning Super Size Me). Spurlock brings forth the premise: what if we could see what it was like to live in an environment completely counter to our own for just thirty days? It features his childhood friend, David Stacy. Stacy, a white Christian from Virginia, goes to live with a Muslim couple outside of Dearborn, Michigan, the city with one of the largest Muslim communities in the States. He is required to wear Muslim dress, grow a beard, answer calls to prayer and learn Arabic.
The first factor that hit Stacy, as he left his hometown, was how prejudiced people were. As he wore a traditional Muslim garb, he was still the same white hometown man, no beard, and yet the airport authorities of Virginia stopped him, searched him and made him take off his shoes. The challenge makes Stacy fight his own fears about his faith, as he worries about turning his back on Jesus by even entertaining another religion's values. Stacy is shown to be as ignorant as the average American when it comes to Islam, yet by the end of the episode, where he returns to his family, he places a copy of the Quran on his bookshelf and promises to defend his new friends and their beliefs against prejudice and bias.
I watched the documentary with my brother. As Stacy realized for the first time how different life was as a minority, we could not help but feel triumphant that the message was getting out. However, at the end of the episode, Spurlock previews the next week's episode. A strict heterosexual Christian is to live with a gay room mate and attend gay events. As they showed two topless gay guys embracing, both my brother and I recoiled at the same time, "Ew, gays!"
Here we were, watching a documentary on discrimination faced by Muslims, and we could not but help ourselves when it was our turn to be the discriminators, on having a holier-than-thou attitude towards gays. As soon as the discriminatee was someone else, some other group, we switched attitudes. This made me wonder, all the outreach programs that we do, all the good work that Muslims do in the US, are they all in vain? Is there ever hope for peace on earth and goodwill towards men?
Tags: 30 Days Morgan Spurlock Dearborn, Michigan