My far-right neighbor

I like to chat with a wide variety of people. Including - and above all - with people who are not like me. We learn fascinating things, on the other as well as on oneself ...

LThe other day, standing in line to buy myself a sandwich, I struck up a conversation with the guy behind me. His look would have made me swear that it was inserted at Mélenchon's. Bad pick, he was exactly on the other side, to the right of the extreme right. Note, given the number of Communists who have gone to the extreme right, we no longer really know who is who… In short, that is not the subject.

So I was talking to this young man, who learnedly explained to me the problem that foreigners posed on our national identity. I am one of those who think that indeed, the question of the integration of foreigners has been too much, and should no longer be treated over the top. We have to keep our eyes open on this. It is a real subject and we cannot hide it.

My neighbor in line was fed up with these strangers invading him. So he wanted to send them all back to their countries of origin.

Yes, but I, I tell him, I am here in the same place as you, and I have things in common with you. On certain points, and no doubt also on important points, we can share the same opinion. And it turns out that my family origins are not in France, I added.

My foreign origins bored this gentleman

My foreign origins bored this gentleman. Because I came to distort a certain uniqueness of France. I can hear it after all, why not? If that corresponds to its core values. We'll see later. Indeed, France welcomed my grandparents who were all four survivors of a genocide. I am grateful to him - and I teach this recognition to my children - for agreeing to give us some room. When they arrived in the 20s, the French indeed had to welcome in their neighborhoods these dirty, poor refugees, whose kitchen smelled strongly of unknown spices, and who - when they spoke in French - scratched the beautiful language. by Voltaire, Hugo and Molière.

Yes, but I was born here, my parents were born here. We are well here. My parents and I even wear French names! I am French to the tips of my nails, passionate about the history of France that I know, in some areas, better than several of my friends with a family tree possibly more Gallic than mine. I decided to make this story my own, although I know full well that my great-grandfather was not killed by a German soldier in Verdun but by his Turkish neighbor on the Anatolian plateau.

How do I get out of this! This guy, very calmly, would have liked to kick me out when all my landmarks, my life, and even the last 90 years of my family history are here. The question seemed insoluble, and yet I wanted to understand his problem: I am indeed on a land that my ancestors did not know, unlike his!

My passport was in order!

And it was there, as I rummaged in my pocket to prepare the change that would soon be required, that the miracle happened. I told him that I was of AR-ME-NIENNE origin! Ah but there, that changed everything. His face lit up: “We support the Christians of the East! I was saved! Think about it! I am in France because my Christian grandparents fled a genocide perpetrated by a Muslim state. Hallelujah! My passport was in order! I could keep my vital card, my allowances and cancel my return ticket! I am the grandson of persecuted Eastern Christians and it sounds like a winning lottery ticket! I have the right pedigree ... the word is out ...

Like a dog, as my ancestors were called - Armenian dogs. My presence here could be admitted through the victim part of my identity. Gloups! Adopting the posture of the victim is somewhat reminiscent of that of the dhimmi in Islamic land… No, we are not going to dare such reconciliations…

If this gentleman was ready to welcome Christians, the problem is not therefore a question of "foreigners" but of "spirituality". What does this mean to accept to welcome only Christian “brothers”? That France is and must remain a Christian country? An interesting meditation begins to emerge ...

"It will be a butter ham, please". That satisfies my neighbor from behind. A bacon quiche would have had the same effect on him. A poultry sausage would have been questionable if we hadn't had our conversation.

My interlocutor does not know it, but he shares with those whom he rejects much more than he thinks about his conception of identity and politics: believing that being "of a certain religion" is acquired. by birth (while the Bible affirms the need for personal choice); to believe that a country can be Christian (even though the God of the Bible goes far beyond political borders); to desire the authority of “his” religion over the country he inhabits (when Jesus himself affirmed that his kingdom was not of this world). By deciding to reject, he enters into a power struggle with the “other”.

The solution is through love

The sandwich paid off, how can we explain to him that the solution lies in the love of the one he does not love a priori. That it also goes through the desire to discover the other. And then also, perhaps, by being interested in what the other is going through. And then, why not, by praying for him. Oh, and then even - let's be crazy - by initiating a process of forgiveness for what the ancestors of the other did to his, to mine ...

There is a pleasure that I particularly enjoy in being a Christian. It is that of getting out of the ambient way of thinking. To come out of the law of the strongest, to enter into the grace of the most loving. To be pushed to my limits to try to really manifest the message that I say I promote.

Love your neighbor as yourself, pray for him, for your nation, and watch over your feelings. And see if the peace of God does not come to invade you!

Pascal Portoukalian
www.paul-sephora.com/magazine/

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