I am part of an online group for people who want to be clinical psychologists. Its a tough career path, and very competitive and in theory we support one another in applying for training posts, share information about specific areas in which we have had experience and that sort of thing. Inevitably, discussion strays on to other areas from time to time, and its certainly a welcome distraction from work sometimes.
Today, someone posted about feeling scared on the London underground and trying to avoid sitting close to Asian men on public transport in London - changing tube carriages, getting off buses etc. While this reaction is understandable and should not be responded to with anything other than empathy and understanding - it also needs, in my humble opinion, to be recognised as irrational, and challenged lest it sow the seeds of segregation and future animosity along racial and/or religious lines.
I was rather surprised by the number of psychology students (who I always assumed are generally open minded and accepting people) who actually defended their actions in the face of quite reasonable challenge from others - words like, 'I have a right to protect myself.'
I wasn't going to blog about the London attacks today, feeling that it is time to move on to other areas of discussion, but this is really bothering me. I wonder if I have acquired any Muslim readers as a result of my attempt to broaden out my blog a little. If I have, I would be grateful for your insights and thoughts on this sort of behaviour.
Also - those of you who are in America, and particularly those of you who were in New York at the time of the September 2001 attacks, how did you find this sort of phenomenon there and how did you overcome it and move on? (Or did you?) We must be serious about loving our Muslim, Asian and Pakistani neighbours, and we must find ways to help one another understand our fears whilst also challenging our prejudice.