I was really disturbed by what I witnessed on the train yesterday when heading home from work. A young Blackamerican mother was seated with a toddler, not much older than my own daughter, when the child began to cry. At this moment, a whole number of culture maladies went into play:
- A young black women with a child: the tension of a young black woman (perceived and assumed to be mother of an out-of-wedlock child) with a child on the train full of 90% white people created an instant moment of shame and pressure.
- The inability for people to see beyond their vain, selfish and temporal selves: when ensued at this point could only be described as belligerent and bully-tactics.
How far have we fallen as a culture when we cannot tolerate the cries of a child for even a few moments? How quickly we’ve forgotten that we too were once toddlers, who more than likely cried in public. Without a doubt, fatherhood has made me more sensitive to children and to parents and to the difficulties of being a parent. It was immediately apparent that this mother was aware that her child was crying on a crowded train and took measures to coo the child. After approximately fifteen minutes the woman gave the child a candy bar which caused the child to cease crying, whereupon an older white woman disparaged:
“I don’t know why you didn’t do that in the first place. You could have saved us from all the torture,” to which I replied, “Perhaps she was thinking in the best interests of the child, not in your inability to tolerate a few moments of a crying child.” The older woman glared at me, startled as if I had just trodden into her house with muddy shoes on. The indifference and cruelty that we display towards one another is indeed alarming and appalling. The child’s crying reminded me of that God says in the Qur’an:
وَأَمَّا السَّائِلَ فَلَا تَنْهَرْ
“And as for the petitioner, do not repel them.” Qur’an 93, verse 10.
For who is a petitioner if not a crying child? May God have mercy on our souls.