I was sitting at the local music school with my five year-old son, waiting for my daughter to finish her guitar lesson. We were playing a game of Mastermind to pass the time. Suddenly three men appeared at the end of the hallway. They had black hair and were speaking Arabic. Given all the media uproar since Sylvester in Cologne and our proximity to the city, I felt my heart beginning to race. I turned to my son, focussing on our game, trying to avoid all eye-contact with the men approaching. No game of Mastermind has ever been thus closely scrutinized. To no avail. They addressed me. Asking me something in Arabic. I did not look up from the game, pretended not to notice them or hear them. In my mind I went through all the Kung-Fu fighting scenes I had ever watched. (And there were many.) I was in utter panic. How would I protect my son? Horrible scenarios went through my head.
The men passed by us. I slowly calmed down and my heart rate returned to a more usual pace. I was thinking about the music teachers in the rooms. There were only two. Suddenly I felt very unprotected and vulnerable. And then the three guys came back. They walked straight towards me, addressing me loudly and slowly in Arabic. One of them pulled out his cell phone and started typing something. Then he showed me the screen. It said: "We want to register for this school. How?" I looked at them. It was an older man, most likely the father and two young guys. With my fingers still shaky I typed the information they needed into the cell phone and had it translated to Arabic. They said "Thank you" by way of lowering their heads and then left.
I felt relief. But at the same time I felt absolutely torn, ashamed and sad. All my life I have taken it for granted, that I was someone who loved all living beings, who was ready to help with a smile whenever help was needed, that I would never discriminate against anyone. And here I was, panic-stricken, due to some outer qualities. Can fear be immoral?