I have mixed feelings about tomorrow. Part of me thinks that matters will get worse before they get better. The other part of me thinks that the last sentence is just a cliché and that things will definitely get better from now on. Suffice to say, I am hopeful for a brighter, new tomorrow.
I come from a torn Middle East. There isn’t a time when I did not know of a war or skirmish erupting in a certain corner of that area. Since my parents were young, they witnessed violence fester and grow around them but even though it made them who they are today and stronger, it continues to wear them down. They have not lived through a peaceful time yet. When I was chatting with my father the other day, my heart ached for him when he said how tired he was of this and honestly I do not blame him. I have yet to say that I have lived through peace in that area, images of bombs, dead people and children are forever stuck in my mind. But I am one of the lucky ones and therefore I am hopeful that my children will experience a more peaceful tomorrow.
Having watched the images on International news agencies and heard hurtful comments from ignorant people does not mean that I am ashamed of who I am or where I come from. I am actually very proud of where I come from. Yes, people living in other parts of this globe might judge that we are ‘backwards’ by the way we live our everyday lives. I do not blame them much because they are basing their judgement on the image painted by the media. And if they visited that part of the world, they would not meet the people I am in contact with everyday when I am there.
And so to them I would say, "It would be lovely if you could meet the hospitable people I know over there. How I wish you could meet the guard who cares for my children as his own or the shop keeper who asks after my family and their well being. I wish you could meet the worker at the gas station who wishes me a Happy Eid when I drive by or the Bedouin in Wadi Rum who offers me his cardamom infused coffee with his toothy smile.I wish you could chat to the hard working taxi driver who became our loyal family friend. I wish you could sit down and have tea with my mother who oozes warmth and sunshine to whomever she met or my dad who, as a doctor, cares about his patients and does not treat anyone as a number on a chart. But I am hopeful that one day you will get the chance to do just that and maybe then you will change your image of where I come from."
I am hopeful that our values will one day be accepted and that they will improve our current situation. One thing that pulls us together is the love of our nuclear and extended family; our bonds are tight and our loyalties are unbreakable. Family is our backbone and this is one aspect of the Arab society that I respect, hold high and believe that it will help us move forward. One would rarely find a nursing home for the elders because they are taken care of within the family. It is a core belief that it is our duty to honor and care for our elders as they did when we were young.
Our total respect for family members and our elders is a value that I wish to ingrain in my own children. It is one of the traits that I wish they would take with them for their tomorrow and which would help them make a difference in the Arab World. You see, if they thought that we are all connected in some way and are one big family under one name and one flag, then maybe things will change over there. If they grew up with the idea that we all should take care of one another... if they grew up believing that what they do will affect others maybe they will start working towards building a better future for everyone in their extended 'family'.