In my experience this past summer I witnessed 4 different ethnocentric societies and their cohabitation after experiencing a crisis.
The first was Ritsona Refugee Camp near Chalkida about an hour outside of Athens.
A place where we overstayed our welcome and underdeveloped our relationships.
My story was about Christian refugees and their treatment after facing mass genocide and prosecution for their faith, and Ritsona was a place that observed all things Islamic.
Holidays, traditions, places of worship were all dedicated to the Islamic faith and nothing else.
This camp was predominantly Middle Eastern Muslims with a few exceptions.
Exceptions that refused to speak to me for fear of revealing an alternate identity to the powerful majority.
Yet, I received nothing less than utmost respect and hospitality of many patrons residing in this camp and although they weren’t able to help me in my findings they opened my perspective.
Many people within this camp were aware of a Christian population and determined to protect it from me among obviously more radically inclined campers.
A Kurdish teenage boy who was translating the broken conversation I was having paused me amidst asking a Muslim Iraqi man about his Christian mother because he knew I wasn’t going to get anywhere.
He stopped to tell me that the world isn’t black and white, and that his best friends at Ritsona were Christian.
That they were all suffering together and their generation wouldn’t stand for divisiveness between culture and religion.
Countless people I spoke to that day echoed the same message.
“We walked the streets like brothers and sisters before Daesh (Isis) came in and tore it apart.”
It didn’t stop discrimination within Ritsona however, and Christians were still silent in the shadows of the camp finding solace in the glimmers of tolerance that existed within the cracks.