I forgot my phone in the car so naturally, I stood around casually watching people come in and out of the busy restaurant. That’s when it hit me, waiting in line for a medium coffee at my local McDonald’s, a realization of the century:
As a female Muslim hijabi standing patiently in that queue, I was collaborating in one of the most beautiful moments I know to be true. I was one of the (at least) 100 other souls of different ages, ethnicities, religions, genders and nationalities gathered at one place, in one time, with one (probable) goal. Yes, that goal was to buy and eat food but in that magical moment, the resulting camaraderie seemed so special.
People who normally wouldn’t speak to each other were making conversation about their favourite burgers, the ages of their kids, the beautiful weather outside. There were no divisions, there were no hesitations, there were humans simply communicating with other humans.
As I took it all in, I smiled, eagerly wanting to speak to someone else about something as well. So I turned around, starting a conversation about yesterday’s winning game with the woman wearing a Toronto Raptors jersey behind me.
After that day, up until this one, I find myself frequently wanting to visit that same location, wanting to once again experience the undeniable unity. I now also take it upon myself to find other cultural hotspots in my community, just like this one: the local Tim Horton’s, the newly-opened resource library, the number 26 bus stop on Jane Street and America Avenue. In my small world, these are places I learn the most from, the places where world politics, hate and war mean nothing. The places where a 17 year old can learn what it really means to come together.
My point is, it’s easy to blame this technologically evolving society for the statistically proven lack of human communication and connection the world is facing today. The truth is, deciding to communicate and connect – that’s all on us. Us, as individuals, either succumbing to the isolation of social technology or learning the power of togetherness because of it. Us, as individuals, either holding biased viewpoints or showing radiating compassion for even the ones that don’t seem to understand it.
These choices, these everyday choices of deciding to make relationships with the people in our world, they’re all on us.
So, make the choice to find your cultural hotspot. Find it, learn from it and share it with the world.