America-Diversity and the Importance of What connects us.

When it comes to faith, there is a lot you won’t learn about me based on the box I check.

Throughout my life I’ve believed. I never knew in what or how, yet somehow I believed–believed validating my faith is something only I can do.

I know in my heart, right down to the core, that there is much more to life–creation itself–than could be explained by any one thing. I chose faith with great hesitation then I relied on where my faith lead me. Once I chose faith I had to go with it. Whether one “believes” or not is not a way to define. All I need to know is that whatever I need or needed could and can  be found in the power of my belief, my integrity, my choices, my actions; never just one thing. Never alone. Faith meant allowing myself to see the world as an intricate, never-ending connection to others.

My dad always came to me with a question that became my pillar when I doubted.  He would ask me what I thought would happen after death? Reminding me that somewhere out there exists an unidentified number of souls who were never taught religion, prayer, rules, hymns, even language, existed and passed. It was the question I would never know the answer to; I’d always wonder how many before me?

What about newborn babies, civilizations past, present…even extinction? Things not tangible always left me believing because I didn’t want to wonder about them. I had to believe that there was more.

If I could dream it, didn’t I see it?  How would “they” be judged if they never received the word of God? My dad simplified this, yet it remains too complex for me. I can’t articulate my beliefs in a concrete way because I believe that the basics of things like the Ten Commandments are something we are born with. We are born humane. We are taught to be inhumane.

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I know that a cell phone works yet I can’t create or build one. That is magic. If I can believe in dinosaurs, I can believe in dragons. I believe in good and  I believe in evil. I believe in what lies in between. The spectrum of possibilities is open. I do believe that there is a definite proof of evil, and  unquestionable proof of divine goodness.

Moving around like my family did allowed me an opportunity that many never had. A chance to see the world with an open mind , unwavering curiosity and acceptance of the diversity of humanity. I was, and still am, privileged. I can’t deny that while many sacrificed everything; my father worked hard using diplomacy, grace, kindness, empathy in order to raise us in world not jaded by the harsh reality of why were immigrants, refugees. We never starved. We never worried if we would have running water, clean water or food. We believed because our parents gave us something tangible to believe in-each other.

Faith wasn’t a topic I wanted for Open Thought Vortex; it scares me …now more than ever. Not facing that fear could now cause irreversible damage.

I didn’t want faith as a theme because in my experience nothing good comes from declaring or speaking about faith. Then I got a call from my dad. It was surreal–his voice on the other line breaking our code of implied conduct by reaching out to me, his youngest daughter to say “Baba, you know that religion isn’t the same as faith?  Remember when I made you take that class, you know Magic, Witchcraft & Religion?”

His question rang my bell. “Yes, I thought it was a huge waste of time but I ended up taking way too many sociology classes. Why? What’s up?”

“Look around today. Don’t turn your TV off because you can’t face the world. This is the world your children will know. I can’t move you like I used to when you were a child. There is no safe place for anyone anymore. I’m telling you this because I know people ask you about Islam & Lebanon. I see how you you dance. Don’t dance. You’re not a dancer. You’re not a terrorist. I’m not a terrorist…you don’t know a single terrorist. If you decide to talk about faith, remind everyone it’s not religion. Remind them that you don’t want anyone hurt. That even one soldier’s life is too much.”

He was urging me to be honest, to use good judgment , raise my voice, consider the world around me and make it count. As he continued, I listened to every nuance of his voice as he spoke to me in both English and Arabic; he reminded me ” There is is more to Arab, Middle Eastern culture than the word Islam covers. Men like Trump will come after your fears. They will make them a reality. Don’t get it mixed with truth. Propaganda, rhetoric is everywhere. Even you use it when you write a lead someone else asks you to do.”

His words fluid, triggering every synaptic nerve in my brain; as he continued I wrote down his words so I could quote him. He said, “I know why you really quit writing. It was your gender, your ethnicity , your ability to understand Arabic & most of all that box you defiantly check as Muslim when you’ve never set foot in a mosque. Don’t dance. You don’t like the song but you can change the station. Good night. Call your mom. She had a dream about you. Love you. Good night.”

What transpired in that conversation had absolutely nothing to do with God or prayer. My father was speaking to me because he was afraid. We–not just Americans, the world –we have a lot to be afraid of. We’ve turned our guns inward. We’ve gotten ourselves to an atomic level. We’ve picked our targets, locked and loaded our intent not to repair; rather we are aiming to seek , destroy and satisfy our most undereducated, under employed, battle-worn citizens because they just don’t know better. At some point we stopped caring enough to learn. Started treating democracy as an annoyance because voting meant you might get jury duty. The Constitution we forged, ratified, and amended is nothing more than fading memory. Instead of maintaining our education and progress we settled for gluttony and privilege. 

Millennials far and wide are coming to vote to rallies, conventions…war parties.  War. Don’t mistake these words for the words you see on your newsfeed, hear on the radio, see on tv or read. I’m not an anchor or reporter worried about ratings or sponsors. I’m at a circus I never bought a ticket for.

Readers, I am asking you to please find the faith inside yourself to vote. It may seem bleak but we will not fall like dominos. Write in your candidate. Despite what you think you do have the power to be counted. Whether you vote in person or by mail take the time to vote. Even if you are deployed, vote. Observe, think then vote.

As I watch the chaos consume the hearts of our nation I am reminded of my mother. She gave me a voice. Aided by a supporting father, they honed into what they considered my greatest strength. Bringing people together. Asking them to speak so I may hear them. Speaking so they may hear me.

I believe in America. I believe in all of you. OTV Magazine has grown beyond expectations because each reader and author knows without question that our mission is to bridge that gap. Bring forth the beauty of diversity , retailing the integrity of democracy , freedom and equality. . . I believe because you have given me faith in you.

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15 thoughts on “America-Diversity and the Importance of What connects us.

  1. Faith is a word that I’ve studied all my life too. I come from the Midwest of the US and am replanted near DC. I’ve always believed that humanity was the beginning of having faith in hope. How can you have faith in hope? You work for it. You encourage it as if it is a small child or a flower that needs just a little extra to grow. You help your neighbor. You help a stranger that needs you for a moment in time. You trust in the good that is inside most of us. I used to believe it was in all of us, but I have met too many selfish people, cruel people who don’t cherish that seed of humanity. I’m part of the Godless Horde of non-believers in religion, but I believe and have faith in all of you out in the world. I believe that we must stand up to those who control us, teach us fear, and keep us in our “place.” There are parts of the US that are so afraid because of Fox News and Commentary. Polite people turn away and think by shunning bullies that the bullies will leave. But it doesn’t work that way. The only way to stop a bully is to stand up and make it known that we who have faith in the human community know what they are doing and reject it. We believe that no one should be hungry, cold, lacking in medicine or education. We reject the idea that education is only for the rich. We understand that the Arts are an important message even if we miss it sometimes. It gives us pause to see things in a new way. We believe that responsibility for others is equal and greater than our personal wish for acquiring things. We believe that greed and manipulation of the economy so that only the top benefit from it is something we must deal with as a society. With great anything comes the chance to change the world.

    You spoke beautifully of faith. I wish I was as lucky as you to have faith that things will work out. I trust that it will. I’m working on having faith in a system that seems sadly broken. I’m working on having faith that all of the loud screamers, killers, thieves and disenchanted will recover their faith in humans or at least acknowledge that we all have a right to exist. I’m horrified by the resurgence of violence against people who don’t fit the bully’s life view.

    Voting is one of the most important duties in a democracy. Holding our elected officers responsible for making the world a better place is something people forget to do once the election is over. Writing, calling, nagging like an old fish wife is just another part of our duties.

    I’ll vote. I’ll make my vote count, and I do it for you, for your family, for the world. I’m not afraid. I truly believe that we are an educated public who cannot put a joke into office (we did that before and survived but really, I’d like us to evolve.)

    If you let the fear mongers win, if you let them immobilize you, then you betray your own faith in good.

    I haven’t met God. Looked for him, out there in the nether world. I have met some wonderful people including those that taught me as you were taught. My family had little, but when someone had less we shared. We shared clothes, food, books, sofas, beds, toys because my mother and father showed us that we can raise the whole world, if we just care enough. My mom is 80. She is still my role model. Oh we have a normal mother daughter relationship and drive each other crazy on occasion. She is, however, the most open caring woman I know. She hides it well sometimes, seeming totally introverted but if there is a need, she’s the first person in line to help someone. She’s not perfect although she gets close but she inspires me to live the values I was taught. She inspires me to be brave and face the world willing to learn about it.

    You inspire me too. You took a risk by writing so openly about your faith, your fears, your family.
    You aren’t alone. I have faith your message will reach out to others who believe too. I bless then for their faith and hope that it grows. Thanks for sharing your message.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Reblogged this on Ann WJ White and commented:
    Faith is a word that I’ve studied all my life too. I come from the Midwest of the US and am replanted near DC. I’ve always believed that humanity was the beginning of having faith in hope. How can you have faith in hope? You work for it. You encourage it as if it is a small child or a flower that needs just a little extra to grow. You help your neighbor. You help a stranger that needs you for a moment in time. You trust in the good that is inside most of us. I used to believe it was in all of us, but I have met too many selfish people, cruel people who don’t cherish that seed of humanity. I’m part of the Godless Horde of non-believers in religion, but I believe and have faith in all of you out in the world. I believe that we must stand up to those who control us, teach us fear, and keep us in our “place.” There are parts of the US that are so afraid because of Fox News and Commentary. Polite people turn away and think by shunning bullies that the bullies will leave. But it doesn’t work that way. The only way to stop a bully is to stand up and make it known that we who have faith in the human community know what they are doing and reject it. We believe that no one should be hungry, cold, lacking in medicine or education. We reject the idea that education is only for the rich. We understand that the Arts are an important message even if we miss it sometimes. It gives us pause to see things in a new way. We believe that responsibility for others is equal and greater than our personal wish for acquiring things. We believe that greed and manipulation of the economy so that only the top benefit from it is something we must deal with as a society. With great anything comes the chance to change the world.

    You spoke beautifully of faith. I wish I was as lucky as you to have faith that things will work out. I trust that it will. I’m working on having faith in a system that seems sadly broken. I’m working on having faith that all of the loud screamers, killers, thieves and disenchanted will recover their faith in humans or at least acknowledge that we all have a right to exist. I’m horrified by the resurgence of violence against people who don’t fit the bully’s life view.

    Voting is one of the most important duties in a democracy. Holding our elected officers responsible for making the world a better place is something people forget to do once the election is over. Writing, calling, nagging like an old fish wife is just another part of our duties.

    I’ll vote. I’ll make my vote count, and I do it for you, for your family, for the world. I’m not afraid. I truly believe that we are an educated public who cannot put a joke into office (we did that before and survived but really, I’d like us to evolve.)

    If you let the fear mongers win, if you let them immobilize you, then you betray your own faith in good.

    I haven’t met God. Looked for him, out there in the nether world. I have met some wonderful people including those that taught me as you were taught. My family had little, but when someone had less we shared. We shared clothes, food, books, sofas, beds, toys because my mother and father showed us that we can raise the whole world, if we just care enough. My mom is 80. She is still my role model. Oh we have a normal mother daughter relationship and drive each other crazy on occasion. She is, however, the most open caring woman I know. She hides it well sometimes, seeming totally introverted but if there is a need, she’s the first person in line to help someone. She’s not perfect although she gets close but she inspires me to live the values I was taught. She inspires me to be brave and face the world willing to learn about it.

    You inspire me too. You took a risk by writing so openly about your faith, your fears, your family.
    You aren’t alone. I have faith your message will reach out to others who believe too. I bless then for their faith and hope that it grows. Thanks for sharing your message.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Blown away by the power of raw truth in this essay, in your father’s words, in your plea for America to stand up and be counted. I re-red what your father said several times to let it sink in — wisdom born of experience triggered by fear still believing. I often refer to my own faith as that of a believer. I do not believe in rules and doctrines. I believe we are connected, have purpose and meaning and I find that faith is often the only thing that perseveres. Thank you for writing this piece on the OTV.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for reading it. It’s this real amazing connection he has with me. Watching his home and country destroyed of religion which is not the same as faith really shattered him. He’s always encouraged democracy. He’s always encouraged dialogue. When I write about my family -especially my parents you’ll find that he always encourages diversity and inclusion. I hope you’ll read some of my other essays. I appreciate you taking the time to comment and most importantly that you read it completely. Most people stop at Islam. My faith has nothing to do with religion. My culture also has nothing to do with it. I am American first generation and nothing makes me prouder. Your support Charli always means so much because I know you read to understand and heal. That’s all I want. I want everyone to know that we can be different but in our hearts we are all able to find common grounds.❤️

      Like

  4. I think that now, more than ever, we are a nation looking backwards into history rather than a nation looking ahead to the future.

    When he ran for reelection in 1996, Bill Clinton urged us all to “build a bridge to the 21st century”. Sixteen years after crossing that bridge, we are disillusioned when we compare where we actually are with the promises for this century we dreamed up in the last.

    This disillusionment and backward looking mentlity is reflected in the two major candidates our political parties have floated to be America’s mouthpiece to the world for the next four years. For the progressives, there is the hope that Hillary Clinton will usher the Era of Good Feelings we experienced under her husband’s watch. For the conservatives, there is the notion that Donald Trump can conjure up what they have imagined to be the spirit of Ronald Reagan and return us to the Gilded Age of those years.

    The danger of looking backwards the way we are is that 65 percent of us think America is on the “wrong track”, according to the most recent Reuters/Ipsos poll. We got to the present by going through our past. Going backwards will only make the future worst. I urge you all, no matter what your faith is, no matter what your politics are, to vote for the candidate you think will do the most to move us forward from where we are rather than moving us backwards and spinning our wheels.

    Liked by 2 people

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