The bus is a great place to meet new friends, when you find yourself squished uncomfortably close to a stranger you are faced with two options, ignore them and hope the awkwardness goes away or strike up a conversation. The girl next to me was writing messages with her hand on the frosted over bus windows. She was very surprised when I could read what she had written. We struck up a conversation and I was excited by how pleasant and outgoing she was. I could judge by her appearance that she wasn't originally from the city, her clothing and demeanor screamed country side and sure enough she quickly started telling me about her home town. She was anxious to know what I thought of the Uyghur people and their culture. She seemed so kind and gentle that I knew I had found a new friend.
At the next stop two more girls from a different people group, one that has long lived in tension with the Uyghur people got on. They ended up standing packed tightly right behind us. My new friend picked up the edge of her headscarf and used it to cover her mouth and nose, the way you might if there was suddenly a foul smell. Her face suddenly took on a hard edge “What do you think of those people?” she asked with contempt. I looked at the girls as they stood giggling behind us, deep in their own conversation. I knew my new friend was a devout Muslim, so I decided to appeal to her religiosity “I think Allah created all people on the earth, Uyghur, Canadian and their people group. I think we must love and respect all that comes from His hand”. Almost as if I hadn’t spoken at all “I hate them, I hate all of them,” she spat out with distain.
I was confused and hurt. Where did the nice gentle girl I was speaking to just a few minutes ago go? How was she replaced with this prejudice, hate filled young women? I made a comment about how our hearts could never know peace and happiness if they were so filled with hate for other humans, but once again my words fell on deaf ears. Her face remained hard set and scornful. Thankfully it was my stop, and I gratefully escaped the tense situation. I was still contemplating the complete change in her personality and the way hatred overwhelms a person when she called me on my cell phone “did you make it home safely on the icy streets?” obviously the nice version of this young women had returned.