Peacemaking, O. Henry Style

It's so much safer in Morocco than in America. Last year there were some 30,000 gun deaths in the U.S. Last year there were zero gun deaths in Morocco. Oh, there was the occasional knifing or being accosted on the street- but not near to the extent of danger that you might experience in the U.S., be it New York or small town Ashland, Oregon. Fights in Morocco also rarely result in a lot of damage- usually the friends of the man or woman will pull them apart before anything can happen. But on the other side, I was always so impressed at how much more often fights would occur in Morocco. I had many opportunities to break them up and practice peacemaking while I was there. Throughout the year but especially at Ramadan you would see people engaging each other with anger and violence. I was struck how seldom you see people doing that in America or Yemen. (In Yemen, of course, the other guy might have an AK-47, definitely has a jambiya, a large ceremonial sharp knife, and if you kill him, his tribe of 20,000 people will attack you. So that kind of cuts down on the possibilities of random acts of violence.) I was glad that street fights don't occur as often in America, or that I have to intercede.

Until a couple days ago. When I'm asking the woman at the local Red Apple Market where an item is, and she won't pay attention to me at all, as all of her attention is focused on the gentleman outside. The shabbily-dressed gentleman forcibly grabbing the arm of a woman and dragging her along. I went up to him (we'll call him Mark) and gently laid my hand on his arm, encouraging him to let go of her, that this was not necessary. At that point another guy came up (and he'll be Fred), yelling at Mark for attacking Fred and the woman, and Mark in turn brought up that Fred had first thrown food items at Mark. So I asked if Mark would be satisfied if Fred would simply apologize, and Mark said yes. I asked Fred if he would apologize. Fred said if Mark let go of the woman. That satisfied them both. Mark let go, and Fred apologized.

Then they continued just yelling at each other, without touching. As long as there no longer seemed a possibility of someone being hurt, especially the woman being attacked, I was happy. Especially since it turned out that Mark was dressed in dingy clothes for a reason- he was a plainclothes security guard for Red Apple, and was in the process of accusing the couple of shoplifting.


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