017 A Bridge to Connect Them


Sam:                         I low key forgot what we were talking about.

Steph:                     So-

Lindsey:                 You forgot?

Sam:                         I low key forgot.

Steph:                     Low key-

Lindsey:                 You were like-

Steph:                     He low key forgot.

Lindsey:                 Low key.

Sam:                         Oh that’s one of our-

Lindsey:                 What’s a low key forget?

Sam:                         Grammar differences. Oh.

Steph:                     Well that means he sort of remembers that he wanted to talk about religion, but he doesn’t really-

Lindsey:                 Oh.

Sam:                         Oh see, that, now I remember what we were talking about.

Steph:                     See?

Lindsey:                 There you go.

Sam:                         It’s been a really difficult week.

Lindsey:                 Oh, I’m sorry.

Steph:                     I’m sorry.

Sam:                         I have so many tests coming up, it’s not even funny. Because the quarter’s almost over.

Steph:                     Right.

Sam:                         It’s going by so fast.

Lindsey:                 [inaudible 00:00:00:27].

Steph:                     And what grade you’re in?

Sam:                         Freshman.

Steph:                     Yeah.

Sam:                         [inaudible 00:00:29].

Steph:                     Man.

Sam:                         So many tests. This has got to stop-

Lindsey:                 Really?

Sam:                         It’s really annoying. Yeah.

Steph:                     Hitting it hard.

Sam:                         I’ve had three tests this week.

Lindsey:                 What, it’s the third week of school?

Sam:                         Fourth week for me.

Lindsey:                 You’re just trying-

Steph:                     What if you imagined, every day always, it was a test?

Sam:                         I would, I-

Steph:                     Every day.

Lindsey:                 That would be horrible.

Steph:                     Yeah, but then. But then the tests are just everything, every other day. So it’s like not a big deal then.

Sam:                         Well because then-

Lindsey:                 I suppose if you had that many tests they couldn’t count for very much in terms of your grade.

Sam:                         Yeah, my tests are 80% and my quizzes are 20%.

Lindsey:                 Ouch. Hmm. Well, so you had three tests this week.

Sam:                         Yep.

Lindsey:                 How do you feel you did? Do you-

Sam:                         I think I did good. Think I did good.

Lindsey:                 Cool.

Steph:                     You’re probably going to have to project-

Lindsey:                 Well why don’t you just-

Steph:                     Voice more.

Sam:                         Oh yes. Okay.

Lindsey:                 So wait, would the opposite … Is there such a thing as a hardcore forgot-

Sam:                         Oh-

Lindsey:                 High key forgot, you just [crosstalk 00:01:29]

Sam:                         No. That’s high key forgot-

Lindsey:                 High key.

Sam:                         Is when you know you forgot.

Lindsey:                 Okay.

Steph:                     Yeah, but you didn’t really forget. You just-

Sam:                         No, I knew it was something-

Steph:                     It wasn’t right there.

Lindsey:                 You low key forgot.

Sam:                         It was on the tip of my tongue.

Steph:                     So do you remember-

Sam:                         Yes.

Steph:                     More about what it was?

Sam:                         Yes.

Sam:                         So in my school and high school specifically, I notice there’s different groups of people and it’s just … Religiously, I’ve noticed a lot of kids that are Christian will sit at a table. Then you have the atheist, the Jewish, the Muslims-

Lindsey:                 Huh?

Sam:                         Then I have two Buddhist kids. Then I have a couple kids that are from Arabia. I don’t know what religion they really are, but it’s just so many different religions, but it seems none of them actually sit with each other.

Steph:                     Really?

Sam:                         So it’s kind of like they want to be apart-

Steph:                     Hmm.

Sam:                         When basically this country was built off of religion.

Steph:                     Hmm. Reverend?

Lindsey:                 Oh, come on!

Steph:                     [laughing] Well, I don’t know. What does it make you think?

Lindsey:                 Did she tell you that?

Sam:                         No, she didn’t.

Lindsey:                 I was like “Come on.”

Lindsey:                 No, I’m curious to hear that there’s a group of self identified Christians at high school.

Sam:                         Yep. They-

Lindsey:                 I never had that experience.

Sam:                         So it’s like you can tell, you really obvious, you could tell the difference between everyone in their racial, I mean their religious beliefs.

Lindsey:                 Religious, yeah?

Sam:                         Yeah, because most of the Christian kids are trying to get the atheist kids to join, go to their church, come, we have games, go to our church, go to our church, go to our church.

Lindsey:                 Wow.

Sam:                         They’re trying.

Lindsey:                 Huh.

Sam:                         And then you have the Jewish kids that won’t even … They’ll talk to other people but it’s mostly they sit by themselves. Then you have Muslim people, then you have Buddhist people. There’s just different tables.

Lindsey:                 And the tables, it’s religiously based tables.

Sam:                         Yeah, usually-

Lindsey:                 It’s not racially based-

Sam:                         And then-

Lindsey:                 It’s not-

Sam:                         In my middle school, it was racially based and then my elementary school it was popularity based. It seems to have changed throughout my grade levels.

Lindsey:                 Weird. And high school it so far is religion based?

Sam:                         Yeah, I hope it changes when I get to 10th grade because there’s two different cafeterias.

Lindsey:                 Uh-huh (affirmative).

Sam:                         I don’t know if it’s just a freshman thing or if it’s just a whole school thing.

Steph:                     All right, so just to recap, elementary school was popularity?

Sam:                         Yeah, middle school was more race and, yeah. And then just, I get to high school, it’s religious.

Steph:                     Religious. Huh.

Sam:                         I think it may be because religiously, they eat with each other because they have more to talk about. It’s easier to start conversations.

Steph:                     Huh.

Lindsey:                 Well, is there a table, or in my experience there would be many tables with people who don’t really identify in a-

Sam:                         Yeah, there’s-

Lindsey:                 Particular religious way.

Sam:                         There’s those kids, yeah.

Lindsey:                 Okay.

Steph:                     Those kids.

Sam:                         Yeah, I have no label for them. I have to call them those-

Lindsey:                 Do they all sit by themselves or is there-

Sam:                         No-

Lindsey:                 Okay.

Sam:                         Most of them-

Lindsey:                 I was-

Sam:                         We have a small cafeteria-

Lindsey:                 Uh-huh (affirmative).

Sam:                         And that’s where sometimes I go in there when I don’t want to hear arguing. So I, that’s where most of them sit. Those are the “I don’t know what’s going on” kind of kids.

Lindsey:                 Huh.

Sam:                         The “I don’t know if it’s, God is real, I don’t know what to believe”, kind of kids.

Steph:                     Huh. So percentage wise, what do you think … If you broke it out, is it half and half religious and nonreligious kids, or is it mostly religious-

Sam:                         No, I think it’s more-

Steph:                     Kids and only a few non-religious?

Sam:                         I it’s 45% religious and maybe 55% not religious.

Steph:                     All right.

Lindsey:                 Yeah.

Sam:                         But then I can’t really say that because I don’t know if some of those kids in small cafeteria are just sitting there because they don’t like all the loud noises.

Lindsey:                 Right, right. True. True.

Sam:                         So it was kind of hard to say.

Steph:                     All right. And the small cafeteria is the one where it’s quiet?

Sam:                         Yeah, it’s not as loud. I wouldn’t say quiet, but it’s not as loud.

Steph:                     And which groups are in the small one?

Sam:                         The kids that don’t know what they are.

Steph:                     Uh-huh (affirmative). And then in the large cafeteria is all the other affiliated groups, or-

Sam:                         Yes. Because in middle school for example, the smaller cafeteria was usually for like the kids that didn’t really care. They had like Puerto Ricans, African Americans, Native Americans, white, Polish, Mexican. They were all in the small cafeteria.

Steph:                     Huh.

Sam:                         Because they were people that didn’t care-

Steph:                     They didn’t care.

Sam:                         Then in the big one, you could clearly see different groups. Same thing for elementary school. It was like popular kids were here, kids that were nerds were there, geeks were there. People that played guitars and instruments were over there. Then in the small cafeteria was kids that didn’t really care what was going on.

Steph:                     Or didn’t have a hobby that they could-

Sam:                         Yeah.

Steph:                     Sync up with somebody in a real obvious way.

Sam:                         Yeah. So they would just talk amongst themselves.

Steph:                     Right.

Sam:                         So that’s why there’s-

Lindsey:                 So what do you perceive to, what critique do you have of this way of self organizing that your peers-

Sam:                         I don’t know.

Lindsey:                 Seem to have.

Sam:                         I don’t know, because I’ve always just analyzed things and find conclusions-

Lindsey:                 Right.

Sam:                         And then I’ve made my decisions off of that conclusion. What I see here is just everyone there seems to make their decisions more of how the majority feels than just one person.

Lindsey:                 Hmm.

Sam:                         So one person may want to go sit with the Jewish kids, but then the other Catholic kids will say, “Yeah, but we don’t want to go over there”, so then-

Lindsey:                 That is frustrating.

Sam:                         They’re going to stay. So I feel like it’s more of a popularity, but between religions.

Steph:                     Huh.

Steph:                     So where do you sit?

Sam:                         I sit in big cafeteria, but I’m one of those kids that don’t really know what’s going on-

Steph:                     Uh-huh (affirmative).

Sam:                         So I just sit there and observe and I just let whatever happens, happens.

Lindsey:                 So I have a picture of you in the middle of-

Sam:                         Yeah, I’m just sitting in the middle.

Lindsey:                 The big cafeteria, just being-

Sam:                         Me and my five friends.

Lindsey:                 Oh, okay. Taking it all in, observing it all.

Sam:                         Just me and my, we’re just sitting … One time there was a, we did end up having a fight in there. It was a Muslim girl and a … I forgot if it was Catholic or she was Christian, so they got into a fight and that was, I don’t know. It’s usually you’d expect a high school-

Lindsey:                 Was it religious fight?

Sam:                         I don’t know the details, but it was just … It sounded like they were arguing over if Allah versus God-

Lindsey:                 Whoa.

Sam:                         It was just things like that.

Lindsey:                 Wow.

Steph:                     Huh.

Lindsey:                 That’s intense.

Sam:                         Yeah.

Steph:                     Okay.

Sam:                         I hope it’s not like that. I hope it’s not like that 10th grade year-

Lindsey:                 Yeah.

Sam:                         Because that’s going to be yuck.

Steph:                     Well it’s going to be all the same people.

Sam:                         Yeah, not, our high school is … Our ninth grade, in Central we do it as your ninth grade’s like your pilot year. The kids that don’t get a C minus or higher get kicked out-

Lindsey:                 Oh.

Sam:                         And then kids from other schools that get C minuses or higher get brought in.

Lindsey:                 Oh wow.

Steph:                     Interesting. Okay.

Steph:                     All right, so you and your five friends, what bonds the five … What makes you all cling together?

Sam:                         I don’t know. See, one of them I know for a fact is Christian, one of them is Muslim. We just don’t really care.

Steph:                     I mean when you say you don’t care, you said that before too. There’s other kids that don’t care. You mean they don’t care about about-

Sam:                         About who’s right or what’s going on. They just go to school, they talk with their friends, hang out with their friends. They don’t really want there to argue about if Allah is real or if God is real or if Jesus was crucified by the Jews, they’re not there for any-

Steph:                     Uh-huh (affirmative).

Sam:                         Of that.

Steph:                     They’re just not in for that conversation.

Sam:                         Yeah, they’re more of “So how was your day? Do you want to go hang out at Blunt Park? You want to play basketball?”

Lindsey:                 It’s more of what you would think would be a typical conversation in high school.

Steph:                     That’s right.

Sam:                         Yeah. Yeah.

Steph:                     It’s interesting.

Lindsey:                 I mean I guess you have so many different-

Sam:                         [Instruction, as we are walking through a neighborhood] We’re going to go that way-

Lindsey:                 People.

Sam:                         And then you’re going to go up this street.

Lindsey:                 Okay.

Steph:                     Hmm.

Sam:                         So my big concern is that there’s so much difference between people that’s sitting in different groups-

Lindsey:                 Yeah.

Sam:                         When our world, our country, everything we know is basically built on religion. For example, the Silk Road, the major trading route in Eastern Asia was-

Lindsey:                 Yeah.

Sam:                         Eastern Western Asia was a built on religion. It was a Chinese dynasty, and it was the Islamic dynasties. It was just built on religion. Our whole world is built on it, and now it’s gotten to a point where Christians don’t even want to sit with the Jews or Jews don’t even want to look at the Muslims.

Steph:                     Yeah.

Sam:                         We’re going to go this way.

Steph:                     The adults have a lot of wisdom right now. [laughing at our silence]

Lindsey:                 Yeah. Yeah.

Sam:                         It’s just a lot.

Steph:                     It is a lot.

Lindsey:                 Yeah.

Steph:                     And it’s, I mean, I think it’s cool you’re noticing it.

Lindsey:                 Yeah.

Steph:                     I think it’s cool you’re concerned about it. I think there’s some, there’s an interesting tension I guess between maybe ‘caring’ and ”not caring because I think the people that you’re characterizing as not caring, they care about stuff, right?

Sam:                         Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Steph:                     And the people who care about their religious beliefs probably have other things that are valuable to them also, not only that, but somehow-

Lindsey:                 Yeah.

Steph:                     There’s not a meeting place.

Sam:                         There’s two different islands, but there’s not a bridge to connect them.

Lindsey:                 Uh-huh (affirmative).

Steph:                     Yeah.

Sam:                         And then one more thing that caught my eye is there’s one friend of mine, for identity purposes or I’ll call him Student 1, okay?

Lindsey:                 Okay.

Sam:                         So Student 1, his name means “Struggle with God”-

Lindsey:                 Hmm.

Steph:                     Uh-huh (affirmative).

Sam:                         And he doesn’t believe in God, okay? His name is a country full of Jews and he feels like Hitler didn’t do anything wrong to the Jews. His belief on that is Jews crucified Jesus, so Hitler was given by Jesus to crucify the Jews.

Lindsey:                 Wait, wait. But your friend doesn’t believe in God?

Sam:                         Yes, but he’s-

Lindsey:                 But he believes that-

Sam:                         That if there was God, Jesus sent-

Lindsey:                 Are we leaving?

Sam:                         Oh yeah, Oh my God. [inaudible 00:11:16] we’ll go this way.

Sam:                         So he said if Jesus did exist, Jesus sent Hitler to crucify the Jews for crucifying him.

Lindsey:                 Well, I think there’s a major hole in that logic that your friend has, but I mean, of all the things to care about if Jesus existed, that about that there, that thinking, is just wait, what?

Lindsey:                 Okay, sorry.

Sam:                         It was-

Lindsey:                 Just had a reaction to that, but.

Sam:                         It was just his way of saying that he legitimately really doesn’t care. He just-

Lindsey:                 But that’s-

Sam:                         Didn’t really care.

Lindsey:                 Beyond not caring. Because if he didn’t care-

Sam:                         He was trying-

Lindsey:                 He would just remove himself.

Sam:                         I feel like he was trying to make a statement that his opinions were right over everyone’s-

Lindsey:                 Right.

Sam:                         Because his opinion and his mind made each major religion connect to one another.

Lindsey:                 Sure. Uh-huh (affirmative). In a-

Sam:                         Yeah now we’re going to turn-

Lindsey:                 Violent way.

Sam:                         Down that way.

Sam:                         Yes, very violent.

Lindsey:                 Yeah.

Sam:                         And yeah, so-

Lindsey:                 Yeah.

Sam:                         That was his perspective on things. I mean we were in English class so I couldn’t argue with him about it because we were doing an essay, so it was kind of-

Lindsey:                 Yeah.

Sam:                         [inaudible 00:12:23]

Steph:                     All right, so all right.

Lindsey:                 I mean there’s definitely, okay, so things I’m thinking of are group identity related to religion, right? So that happens in adults, right? Group identity, the power of the group and the violence that groups-in-the name-of-particular-religions over time have done. That’s-

Steph:                     A real thing.

Lindsey:                 A real thing. Those are real things.

Lindsey:                 I don’t have, what else to say?

Steph:                     Yeah I mean-

Lindsey:                 I don’t know, it’s complicated.

Steph:                     Well it’s complicated. I want to know what did you hope to get out-

Lindsey:                 Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah.

Steph:                     Of actually having this conversation in this way so that we could put it out on the podcast and-

Sam:                         I’m hoping that people can see that you may have different religions-

Lindsey:                 Yeah.

Sam:                         But sitting … Just not liking each other based on your religion isn’t really fair.

Lindsey:                 True.

Sam:                         You don’t like me because I’m Christian and you’re Jewish doesn’t mean that we don’t have other things in common-

Lindsey:                 Right.

Sam:                         You can’t just not like me because I have different religion than you.

Steph:                     Right.

Sam:                         Is-

Steph:                     Mostly, ideally.

Sam:                         I mean, because of something I heard-

Steph:                     Hmm?

Sam:                         Over the internet because someone posted something, it was about he didn’t like Christians. And then I later I found out that he didn’t like Christians because he was Jewish.

Lindsey:                 Oh.

Sam:                         And then that’s when I started observing that there were actually different groups of people in our cafeteria.

Lindsey:                 Huh.

Sam:                         This was two weeks into school.

Lindsey:                 Oh, interesting.

Steph:                     So that video was, how did you see it? Somebody posted it on Facebook or-

Sam:                         No, it was on Instagram. It was-

Steph:                     On Instagram.

Sam:                         It was just a screenshot, or a picture of his hand. And in the comments it said what he thought, what he had to think.

Steph:                     And so then he had, he spoke out against Christianity?

Sam:                         Yeah.

Steph:                     And then, but you then, when you say the reason why is “because he’s Jewish,”‘sI mean it seems-

Sam:                         [crosstalk 00:14:11] That’s just-

Steph:                     That seems a little over-simplified to me. What-

Sam:                         I don’t know. It’s just he didn’t like Christians. I don’t know how to explain it.

Steph:                     All right. He had a-

Sam:                         He just, he made it clear, “I don’t like-“, because he’s one of those kids that don’t really feel like other people’s opinions matter. Only his matter.

Steph:                     All right, so he displayed prejudice.

Sam:                         Yes.

Steph:                     And then is this Instagram, is it circulating among other kids at school?

Sam:                         Yes. That’s how I started noticing that different religions sat with each other.

Lindsey:                 Okay.

Sam:                         Was because it was two days old when it got to me-

Steph:                     Okay.

Sam:                         Because it was, I got it through a direct message, and after four or five days after being up, he took it down.

Steph:                     Uh-huh (affirmative). Was there a lot of interaction on it?

Sam:                         Yes, there was … I think that’s how most of the fights in my school started-

Lindsey:                 Wow.

Sam:                         Because at that post.

Lindsey:                 Wow.

Steph:                     Uh-huh (affirmative). So what’s happening, so what you’re really trying to do is intervene in a situation that looks like it just blew up out of hand somehow.

Sam:                         Yes.

Steph:                     Yes.

Lindsey:                 Hmm.

Steph:                     Mm-hmm (affirmative). Well that’s laudable.

Lindsey:                 Yeah.

Steph:                     I got no problem putting a podcast out about trying to find ways to get past those kinds of … That seems like a, what do I want to say? It’s like a … when someone kind of purposely puts something out there to get people all worked up. I mean I don’t know what the person’s motivation was for putting the Instagram out there to begin with. I have no idea. And, but the way that people respond to it, like a fire.

Sam:                         Yes. It was like he poured gasoline on a dead fire and then he-

Lindsey:                 Yeah.

Sam:                         Lit it back up.

Lindsey:                 Yeah.

Steph:                     So then the question is, so what-

Lindsey:                 Yeah.

Steph:                     That fire gets going, what are the best ways to tamp it out and can you actually do some-

Sam:                         See-

Steph:                     Work around it so that it doesn’t, it’s not so easy to light that fire again.

Sam:                         What I was thinking was having my group of friends would, I was just going to have one of them sit with Jewish kids, then another one sit with … Each one goes to a different religion. Then the next day they just switch.

Steph:                     Uh-huh (affirmative).

Sam:                         And the next day switch again, and hopefully people start noticing that you’re our friend, but you’re sitting with the Jews. Well maybe that really isn’t a problem because you still like us.

Lindsey:                 Right.

Sam:                         I want people to notice that he’s sitting with the Jews right now and then he, next day he’s sitting with the Christians. The next day he’s sitting with the Muslims, he doesn’t … And the next day he goes back to the Jews.

Lindsey:                 Hmm.

Sam:                         He’s not-

Steph:                     So could you be the example person doing that?

Sam:                         I could be.

Steph:                     But it’d be good if people understand that’s what you’re doing.

Sam:                         Yes. I want more than just me to do it.

Lindsey:                 Yeah, yeah.

Sam:                         I need … Just one person can’t solve any problem.

Steph:                     What about your club man, your friends?

Sam:                         Yes. That’s what I wanted-

Lindsey:                 [crosstalk 00:00:17:07].

Sam:                         Them to do.

Steph:                     Yeah. If you all did it, and maybe we did some kind of support project thing-

Sam:                         I just, my major goal is to … If all you have are Christian friends, why don’t you go and try and make a Muslim friend-

Steph:                     Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Sam:                         Or make a Jewish friend or a Buddhist friend?

Steph:                     Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Sam:                         Why don’t you try to make friends with different religion-

Steph:                     Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Lindsey:                 That’s good.

Sam:                         That way you can take the time to actually understand where their religion came from. Understand why they believe in that religion, instead of assuming their religion’s bad.

Lindsey:                 Yeah.

Steph:                     I like it.

Lindsey:                 Yeah. Seems pretty good.

Steph:                     All right, so do you think, is this podcast … Do you see this as this is your invitation to people to be involved in this thing?

Sam:                         It’s more like, it’s not an invitation, it’s more of a request.

Steph:                     Okay.

Sam:                         An invite, you get an invite in the mail, you can either open or just throw it away.

Steph:                     Uh-huh (affirmative).

Sam:                         This is more of a request. I’m pushing for you to open it.

Steph:                     Uh-huh (affirmative).

Sam:                         And you can get rid of it, but you can’t get rid of this podcast. It’s always going to be there-

Steph:                     All right.

Sam:                         So I’m pushing for you to accept the invite to make more friends of different religions.

Lindsey:                 Uh-huh (affirmative).

Sam:                         Don’t let diversity get in the way of friendship. Don’t let different religions get in the way of friendship. Don’t let the sad kid in the corner who has no friends because he’s Buddhist, have no friends. Go over there and make friends with him.

Lindsey:                 Right. Pretty cool.

Steph:                     It’s pretty cool. All right. We’re in.

Lindsey:                 Although I think it’d be bad if we showed up at the high school and-

Sam:                         That’s-

Lindsey:                 Yeah. I think that’s … come and interrupt, but [crosstalk 00:18:44]

Steph:                     Oh, you don’t want us to come man?

Sam:                         Oh-

Steph:                     [laughter] That’s cool. We don’t need to, it’s all good.

Sam:                         Oh.

Steph:                     We’ll do a follow up in a few months or so. See how it’s going.

Sam:                         Yep. Yep.

Steph:                     All right, cool. I think it’s a wrap. Yeah?

Lindsey:                 It’s pretty good.

Sam:                         Yes, ma’am.


Location: Allen Park, Springfield, MA
Recorded September 18, 2019

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