Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Compassionate Opinions

Over Christmas, I had a conversation that sparked a thought in me.  I said something that keeps coming back to the forefront of my thoughts, and I feel the need to put theoretical pen to paper to get it out.

The conversation was about Muslims.  Specifically, the conversation was surrounding whether or not we should allow Muslim refugees into our country.

Now, I'd like to take a minute here and tell you that having a two and a half year old with Down syndrome, four therapy appointments I take him to every week, working full-time, and being 32 weeks pregnant makes me slightly less that fully educated on all the happenings and factual information in regards to this topic.  However, I do feel I have something to get off of my chest.

I live in Dearborn, MI.  I've lived here my entire life, and I absolutely love it.  If you've never been
here, Dearborn is a place to see.  This is the town that Henry Ford built, and it is spectacular.  You will find the Henry Ford Museum, Greenfield Village, and The Henry Ford Estates all within the walls of our city, which people come from all over the world to see.  You will find spectacularly well-kept historic homes that boast over a hundred years of history, as well as a community of people within them that believe in keeping up with the traditions and history of these gorgeous works of architecture.  During Christmas every year, you will find a plethora of gorgeous lights on so many homes (regardless of religion) and, on Christmas Eve, lines of luminaries
up and down many of the streets lighting the way for St. Nick. 

You will also find the largest Muslim population in the United States, which is probably the only thing most of you know about my dear city. 

If you've spent any time on social media lately, any time at all watching the news, or even so much as kept your ears open at a local restaurant, you've probably heard somebody say something horrible about Muslims or people from the Middle East in general.  I refuse to reiterate the horrible, awful things I've read or heard recently, so I am going to assume you all know what I am talking about.

It is of my own personal opinion that most hate brews from fear of the unknown and lack of understanding.  Hate brews when we are terrified of something, something awful, and the terrorist attacks that have been happening in abundance lately are doing exactly what the terrorists want.  They are making us terrified.

While my entire life I have had daily interactions with people from all differing ethnic backgrounds, including Muslims, I have recently began to realize that most of the people in our country have not.  Most of the country gets all of their information and interaction with the Muslim population through what the news chooses to show you.

This is not where my information comes from.

My information comes from my dad's friend Jay growing up.  Jay is one of the sweetest and most generous men I know.  He's taken my family to dinner, bought me Christmas presents when I was little, and laughed hysterically when my best friend Ramie insulted his entire business at dinner one night by telling him she thought his tea was disgusting.  I most recently saw Jay at the fundraiser I held for The Down Syndrome Diary.  He was there, as always, to support our family and me.

My information comes from my old assistant manager, Lena, from when I managed a retail store.  We were so close, we used to ask each other the most inappropriate questions possible about each others families and religions and laugh til we could hardly breathe.  I won't go into detail because you would all probably think we were ridiculous, which we are.  We would joke and laugh and learn from each other daily, and I still consider her one of the dearest people to me even though we don't get to see each other very often anymore.  I miss seeing her face every day. 

My information comes from my neighbors, Billy and Zara.  Zara and I have been pregnant now at the same time through two pregnancies.  Their little boy and Ben are almost the exact same age, and they just had their third beautiful baby boy who will be just a few months older than Ellie.  Their little girl is probably the sweetest and cutest thing I've ever seen in my entire life, and loves Benny like there's no tomorrow.  Zara has watched Benny for me, Billy continuously snow blows our front walk for us, and they are probably the coolest people you will ever meet in your life.  If anyone is the jerk neighbor between the two of us, it's us.  I'm the one that can't drive our damn truck very well and consistently rolls over Billy's perfect lawn.  We are the ones with the annoying yappy dogs that never shut up.  We are the ones who forget to take our garbage cans up for days at a time.  Oh, and by the way, their Christmas tree puts ours to shame.

My information comes Monday through Friday when I take Benny to daycare.  Miss Riam is Benny's primary caregiver.  Benny absolutely lights up when he sees her and immediately reaches out for her.  Miss Riam lights up as well, because she is absolutely in love with my kid.  Every morning, I hand my son who I love more than life itself over to her.  She hugs him, kisses him, and he consistently attempts to rip off her Hajib which she thinks is hilarious.  He especially loved the reindeer antlers she wore the week before Christmas, and focused on ripping those off her head for that week in lieu of her Hajib.  She pays close attention to everything I tell her about what we need to focus on with Benny's therapies, and always has lots of questions about ideas she has to help him do better.  She even requested a walker to keep at daycare so she could practice with him throughout the day.  The day there was a shooting at the mall behind our daycare, I walked in to find Miss Riam in the safe room with all the other children and caregivers holding on to my child for dear life on her lap.

I don't get my information from the news.  I get it from life, and I feel so blessed that is the case.  I am not saying I am immune to the fear and the terror that is happening in our world right now, and I am not going to sit here and pretend I haven't had a horrible thought cross my mind, or an ignorant statement cross my lips that was birthed from those fears.  What makes me lucky is that whenever the stories on the television come into my thoughts, I have real life to fall back on.  I am grateful that the media doesn't get to choose how I feel and think, because I get to dip into my own pool of relationships, memories and emotions.

I am also glad that when the news outright lies about things happening in my city, such as all the ISIS rallies they claim are happening which are actually PEACE rallies less than a mile from my house, I am here to see the through their lies with my own eyes and heart.

I know not everyone out there can have 35 years of experience living with and around people who follow Islam and are from the Middle East, but I ask one thing of you all.  You can have your opinions, that is the beauty of freedom.  You can state your fears out loud, that is the beauty of the first amendment.  What I ask is that when you are speaking, typing, thinking, you remember that a "Muslim" is not a thing.  A "Muslim" is group of human beings with the same fears as you.  When you say something about the "Muslims", you aren't talking about a far away group of people whom you only see on TV.  You are talking about my dad's lifelong friend, my friend, my neighbors, and the beautiful, light-filled woman I trust my Benny with every single day.

You may feel what you feel, and think what you think, but please also remember to be kind and respectful.  This is all I can ask of you.

“Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive.”
― Dalai Lama XIV, The Art of Happiness

No comments:

Post a Comment

Would love to hear your thought, comments, advice, or emotional outbursts!

-xoxo Jamie