Stand United or Fall Divided


While some of us united this weekend, many divided. Online, we came together or fell apart as the news hit. Beirut, Paris and on and on. I watched as pictures of children & memes went up on my news feeds. Children, not old enough to know better or consent, being staged in photos with tag lines like “Sniper in Training” or “Islam -Wipe ‘Em out!”


I watched as my fellow authors, publishers & bloggers  lost followers for saying Islam wasn’t evil. I watched as hatred spread on Twitter. As lines were drawn on Facebook. Enemies defined. I watched as ignorant, horrific remarks went up. Many of those same people who instantly changed their profile pics to the red, white and blue banner as a show of support also shared pictures or comments suggesting we wipe out Islam entirely. By doing so, they painted targets on the backs of my family, friends and colleagues.


The rest of us agonized over how to tell our children. Agonized over whether we should tell our children what was happening in their world. What could we tell them? We all agreed. It was incredible. The messages and texts from my writing community and chosen family were incredible. Together we affirmed: united we would stand or divided we would fall. And we held each other up.

When I saw those pictures of children pointing toy weapons, I recoiled. My head spinning. They were images of children I know and love.

Hope (11-15-2015)
“Hope” by Aaminah Shakur Available for purchase at

I watched as my “friends” reduce themselves to the lowest, most ignorant, common denominator. I might have spiraled, but then I read        I See You Humanity.  Nicole Lyons spoke for my mother, for my father,  and for my family with her impassioned and inclusive arguments for nonviolence.

I reached out to Al Lane  who comforted me from England with his kindness. We agonized over tone. What would we say? How would we say it? He turned his pen to the page to write through it as I am doing now.

I reached out to Aaminah Shakur  who was creating art with a heavy heart as a reflection of their  truth. They would create art for peace and hope and to ease their own tension, pain and fear. To me, that  art is all the colors that hold the world up. And what was produced over the weekend . . . seriously. . . you can feel a heartbeat.

Je Suis (11-15-2015)
“Je Suis” by Aaminah Shakur Available for purchase at

I reached out to Shawna  Ayoub Ainslie, she and I  saying as little as possible because we knew–damn it!–we knew that our words were more than just rhetoric, but that few would receive them with their full meaning. So we both sank our words into our shared heart space, twinned of mind in our grief. We held each other up.

Those pictures! In my mind the children were drowning in the blood of American choices. I thought of soldiers, pilgrims, refugees, mothers, fathers, daughters, and sons worldwide saying goodbye to their families.

Will children lose their mothers and fathers to this never ending war? Will these children grow up to carry on more bloodshed? Or worse, because I can attest to the fear of losing your baby, will those parents lose their children? Will terror rip our hearts out? Will we lead them to our hearts through our minds? Will we learn nothing from the past?

These children we as a society are to foster, educate and mentor; we are showing that killing is the answer.

My brain scrambled with the fear I felt for our future . I cried over what would come of our humanity.

Many of us chose to shelter our children, like Maria, a school teacher, shared in her weekend post. We agreed with the greater community of this site to handle this fracture in the spirit of the world with dignity and solidarity. Not hand our babies toy guns and use them as propaganda for a war. Those of us who could used our voices; we made a choice. We chose to not arm the world with ignorance. We chose to connect, unite, to love, respect, listen, learn, read. . . understand.


Rather than concentrate on the hatred I saw this weekend, I am choosing to remember humanity. I will remember those who read  my story and Shawna’s story and shared it. I choose to keep in my heart and prayers anyone who has lost a loved one for any reason. I will remember that life is precious. I will hold closest to my heart the words of people like Nicole and Maria who were thoughtful in their choices to arm us with careful thought, kindness, compassion, and empathy.

Those are the words to remember. . . the words and thoughts that will change the world.

What follows is but a handful of those I would like to thank for their support.  I look forward to #LinkYourLife posts. I challenge you to write about how you will make positive change in the world this coming week, and to pass the challenge on to at least two friends. Have them link back to this post so we can collect them for a roundup showcasing the power of words to effect global change.  Tag your posts with #LinkYourLife and #LinkYourCompassion on social media. I can’t wait to read your hope.





















22 thoughts on “Stand United or Fall Divided

  1. Thank you so much for writing this amazing post. I’m sharing it across all of my social media channels. I’ve also watched my “friends” & family reduce themselves this week & it’s been sad to watch. While it’s all hard to understand, one thing is clear, Stand United or Fall Divided.

    Beautifully written post, as usual. And gorgeous artwork by Aaminah Shakur.


    Liked by 2 people

  2. You have the gift of a strong and beautiful voice. I’m standing with you, Shareen! Diversity has to be of God’s plan — look at the flowers of the world. We don’t have irises only, daisies only, roses only. The beauty is in the whole wide spectrum, the variety, the differences, the abundance, the expansion of what beauty is! Nor do we have one thought process, else we’d all be eating just pizza for dinner and think of nothing else. We imagine, we seek our personal relationship with God, we love our families, we laugh and cry with our friends, we read, we think, we grow, we evolve. We need fertile soil for both flowers and ideas to flourish. And that comes from interacting and learning form one another. Love is the sunshine by which we all grow. So why all the “united we stand” but for “only the DAISIES” or for “only the ROSES”? Because evil is division. Our enemy is that which divides us, calls us to violence and hate. I might sound like a hippie love-child, but I’m all about the flowers! ALL OF THEM! Yet, I know your fear and pain is real. I worry over who is the next target and who will lose in the next act of violence. Stay safe, you and your family, but stay strong and use your voice in love. I’m going “missing in action” until Dec. 1 while I prepare and enjoy my visit with grown children! I’ll catch up with you and maybe we’ll have good news in the world. But if not, it starts at home and broadens from there one relationship, one story, one act of compassion at a time.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I will miss you! But Wow! You left me a the most amazing gift. Your words. If I were to feel alone or afraid I could turn to these words as a reminder. This is the power of words. Your words deliver healing properties. I feel lucky. Everyone who’s read this has been so supportive. Enjoy your family! Hugs & Love to you!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Thank you! I’m pretty tough but when it comes to children I feel I have to speak up. I have seen the toll this takes on children. I am fortunate because I’m not an easy target. Some are. I can’t imagine bring a refugee. I was born here with all my family nearby. I can’t imagine not having a home. My dad had planned for our move. We use to travel back & forth . We had everything we needed. Thank you for being so kind! Have a fantastic holiday /weekend. I am very grateful ❤️

        Liked by 2 people

  3. So well spoken, Shareen, in these tumultuous times when we should all be united as human beings of all faiths. I cringe, too, at memes of tots with guns….but then I always have. I still naively believe that if women ruled the world–there would be no war. Thank you for this beautiful essay ❤️

    Liked by 3 people

  4. It’s true. We need to teach our children love and acceptance. Let them never know the brutality of hate. Sad it is so abundant, like a weed it spreads and overtakes the once fertile soil.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I lived for about three years in a house with a Pakistani Muslim, a Indian Hindu, the Jewish son of a Holocaust survivor and me – baptized Christian and I’m happy to report that the end of world did not happen! People need to reach out beyond their tightly knit communities and get to know one another. I’m sure that’s as true in Paris as it is in many parts of the US. Great post! Thanks so much for linking my blog to your site – made my day and my Thanksgiving!

    Liked by 4 people

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