Sunday, June 7, 2015

A Trip to the Mall

I was wandering around the Mall yesterday, in a kind of "I've just ridden 100k" haze, as is usual on a Saturday afternoon. As I wandered the Mall intent on hunting, killing, and bagging a couple of long-sleeve T Shirts I got a bit of a shock. There was a kid running around the Mall with a toy machine gun. He was darting back and forth through the crowd shooting away at anyone he saw, sound effect and all.

The first thing that I felt was real shock at seeing a kid with a gun like this. I wondered why I felt this. After all, there was a time when I wouldn't have batted an eyelid, having grown up playing goodies and baddies, cowboys and Indians. I think it is because you just don't see this sort of thing anymore. At least in NZ, running around in public with any kind of gun is kind of frowned upon. Dare I say, for good reason.

Then I thought it is because I am influenced by the PC police. Have I gone a bit silly stopping kids having fun. Then I realised that this is for good reason. In a world like this where horrible events happen with guns including things very close to home, we don't want to see kids running around in public with guns do we? Or am I barking up the wrong tree?

The second thing that flashed through my mind was a time I was involved in an arms defender call-out at a mate's 21st. We were having a fine old time having a water pistol war in the central city when we heard sirens and were next surrounded by heavily armed men telling us to put our weapons down. Seemed someone had seen us running around and thought we were really armed and about to have a war. Needless to say we laid down our arms, got a good telling off, and went on our way.

Then I looked more closely and saw that the child was with his family surrounding their Mum. I looked at her thinking, what are you doing letting your kid run around with a gun like this? Then, noticing her clothing, I realised she was a Muslim. Now, I am not sure whether I should have responded as I did, perhaps I am guilty of racism or Islamophobia, but I thought "what the?" I said out loud, "seriously!" I then kept walking shaking my head.

Rightly or wrongly, I was shocked. Many Muslims find acceptance in NZ hard. They are victims of all being lumped together as Jihadis, even though most Muslims are not. They should not be, but they need also to be wise to aid their own course. On this occasion, I was full of questions like this. Doesn't a Muslim woman know better than to allow her kid to run around a Mall with a gun, albeit a toy one? How does she expect people who see Jihadi atrocities across the news on an almost daily basis to respond? Does allowing such things help the cause of the Muslim trying to find a place in NZ? Is she wanting to perpetuate people's prejudice? (Mine having perhaps been exposed ... again!).

After I had processed my shock, and killed and bagged my T Shirts, I wondered if I had let a great chance to chat nicely to a Muslim woman. She may have been blithely unaware of her situation. Then again, such a conversation would be difficult. As I ponder it a day later, truth is I am not sure what to think, except that it was not a great idea and I would advise her not to do so again. Then again, it helps me confront my own prejudices and to ponder the modern PC world we are in.  

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