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I met a Palestinian

Updated on August 31, 2012

It is not every day you meet someone from the middle east - at least not for me - and without making this too specific I wanted to relate my experience of this chance meeting with Ibrahim (not his real name) - it was so important because it made me realize there is so much pain and suffering people go through - yet what they put this down to is very significant - I mean very significant.

I really felt for this man. He had done it VERY HARD - I mean very very hard and I really felt his pain - I could feel it in the conversation that he was still fighting his pain and trying desperately to claim some respect for himself despite overwhelming feelings of humiliation.

He had applied for hundreds of jobs in his new country and despite his extremely hard work no-one had given him a job so this had contributed to him feeling more pain and humiliation. Please - let us not look at all people from middle eastern backgrounds as suspect.

His conversation was obsessive - a kind of desperation in it. He told me about the injustice of the country he was now living in - its lack of tolerance and acceptance. He felt so mistreated and he related a story of another migrant to prove his point. This other migrant had all these university degrees but would you believe it - he was cleaning toilets - the only job he could get.

It was a natural progression to conclude if you were foreign - with a foreign name and accent you couldn't get on no matter how hard you tried - you would end up doing the jobs no-one else wanted to do.

"They kept denying me - but I got to where I am" he said, "and now I'm showing them".

Ibrahim, I said - you have done an awesome thing to get to where you are today - be very proud of what you've achieved.

But you know what? In my opinion, you are not completely right about why it was so hard.

The source of your feelings of humiliation and pain did not come from the new country you are living in - not from Americans or Australians or the English culture and attitude to foreigners - it comes from how you were made to feel as a child - we carry the feelings of our childhood into adulthood and construct the world to reflect how we were treated back then.

The fighting you thought you had to do was your way of proving yourself in the face of your earlier feelings of humiliation. As another foreigner, that's how I see it. It is not the full story to say it is Western culture because, yes, without doubt, prejudice does exist and sometimes people can be cruel when they judge you on where you come from or the color of your skin.

But let me show you the other side for a minute.

As adults, we have a compulsion to go into our deepest hurts from childhood and we choose or create situations that will reflect what we knew as children and sometimes what we knew was dsyfunctional because it was not a loving environment that made us feel warm towards the world.

If we knew ridicule or humiliation for example - we will continue to confirm, invite and feel it later in life.

If we were denied - we will continue to feel denied by others later in life.

If we were over controlled - we will think the world is like this later in life or choose controlling people to be around or think others are controlling us all the time even if this is not the case.

We choose our circumstances because they are familiar so there is kind of comfort in continuing to get WHAT WE DONT WANT - denial, humiliation, submission.

Thats one of the saddest facts of life when our childhoods are not perfect - our earlier circumstances determine so much of how we will see life later.

Our earlier circumstances will lead us to impose the bad stuff on ourselves later in life and we will do it subconsciouly even - in other words without even knowing that is what we are doing!

How are we to treat people like Ibrahim?

I think we need to be respectful and acknowledge his pain and suffering and feelings of humiliation as we would with anyone who was feeling like this - it makes a person angry to be feeling like this even if the person may be missing the cause for their pain.

A simple opinion on our part could be interpreted wrongly or taken personally by someone who has been through what Ibrahim has suffered.

I think it helps our collective humanity to put ourselves out a little and put some HOPE into the lives of people who have suffered as Ibrahim and others have done.

Hopefully, this will lead to a cycle of GIVING and GIVING back and more joy for everyone!


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    • profile imageAUTHOR 

      6 years ago

      hello Deborah - glad to have found you on HP - what an awesome community it is with people like yourself and others contributing and keeping the best in life at the forefront! Thanks for dropping by.

    • Deborah Brooks profile image

      Deborah Brooks Langford 

      6 years ago from Brownsville,TX

      wow what an hub.. this is wonderfully written. and such wonderful thoughts and caring from you. If everyone cared liked you did this world would be so mach better to live in

      many blessings to you

      and nice to meet you

      thanks for the follow


    • toknowinfo profile image


      6 years ago

      Hi Pdog, I just wanted to let you know I wrote 3 hubs to start to answer your question about moving past our core beliefs. They are called 'How Our Past Affects Us', 'Your Core Beliefs and You', The Psychology of Emotions'. It is just the start, since there is a lot that is involved with our core beliefs, but let me know if it begins to help explain these things a little. Also, I want you to know that my degree is in mental health counseling and rehabilitative therapy, which is a masters degree in counseling. I am not a psychologist, even though I would have loved to get my Phd in psychology. But since this is my second career, I would have been in school too long to complete that degree. In any event, I hope my knowledge will help you just the same. Let me know if my hubs are help, and let me know what else you want me to write about. I appreciate you inspiring me, and I am hoping I can help you in any way I can.

    • profile imageAUTHOR 

      6 years ago

      Hello TKI - good to see you and yes so true (I agree) As a psychologist, I would love to know what you think is the best way to move past restrictive core beliefs that may be preventing us from seeing past the pain, suffering and humiliations indeed from attempting to recreate these later in life unconsciously?

    • toknowinfo profile image


      6 years ago

      Hi Pd, I am glad you shared your encounter with Ibrahim. It is so true how our childhood impacts our self perception. Even when we would like to think we have free will, we are constrained by our core beliefs and messages we tell ourselves. It is universal, and so human.

    • profile imageAUTHOR 

      6 years ago

      Awesome Mazzy - We 'protract the harm' - you put it so so well. Does this kind of wisdom only come later in life when we see the pattern of how we repeat our childhoods? We so need to remind ourselves how we bring up our children is so important. Great to meet such a quality writer on HP

    • Mazzy Bolero profile image

      Mazzy Bolero 

      6 years ago from the U.K.

      I think you are right that we continually recreate the painful situations of our childhood and try to make them turn out differently. It would be so much easier if we could just walk away from them, but we rarely do. We protract the harm we endured when we could end it. Very thought-provoking.

    • profile imageAUTHOR 

      6 years ago

      drbj - I can always count on you and I am trually grateful for your contributions not only here but in general on HP - even if the bully thing will not change it's good to know there are people on the same wavelength that understand - we'll stick together! Unbelievablely harsh backgrounds like this Korean boy's and Ibrahim's just go to show the human spirit - how it can rise above the circumstances. If I can give the great drbj inspiration, that makes me trually happy!

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 

      6 years ago from south Florida

      Dear pd - You put a lot of thought and compassion into this article about 'Ibrahim' and your writing demonstrates the size of your heart and the magnitude of your thoughts. Human beings as a rule feel stronger and more powerful themselves when there are others they can belittle or bully or punish. That's a human trait that may be impossible to change. But we can try. And this remarkable video of this young Korean boy with his amazing spiritual voice and ability despite his almost unbelievably harsh background make me, for one, want to do and be better. Thank you for the lesson.


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