Monday, January 12, 2015

Limits


Just recently, three days ago to be exact, I started feeling very out of place here. Due to the recent horrific criminal act in France... but wait also in Gaza, Iraq, Syria, Nigeria, etc, the focus has been more on Islam.  The Arab countries,  Islamic scholars as well as many Muslim individuals have taken to the media in all its forms to condemn any act committed by insane extremists who, honestly do not represent me and many others. But no matter how many times they condemn it, the image of Islam and Muslim people is getting worse and not only at the hands of the Muslims. 

These three days have been draining to hear the news and more so reading the personal comments of many readers in the article commentaries. Wow! The wave of hatred that one receives from reading those comments hits one like a virtual stone wall. The hurt I feel that some people say, that ALL Muslims should be wiped off the map, is too deep. Even though this was not the only time that I read or heard anything like that. I had a student in Thailand chat to me about how his father believes that ALL Muslims should be taken to a different planet not knowing that I was one of those people who would board that spaceship. Come to think of it, the latter comment sounds way better than the first.

These three days I have been struggling to fit in.  I am an international teacher and one of the aspects of being International is that I must try and fit in, in order to enjoy the whole journey as well as make friends from different parts of the world. Being International to me means that one has to be open-minded and accepting of the different cultures we interact with. I thoroughly enjoy getting to know people from different regions of the globe. It is a warming feeling as it makes the world so much smaller and more connected. 

But I am struggling to fit in. I am Arab and I am a Muslim. Even though I am not visibly so, my last name, which I use at school, certainly gives it away. This does not mean that I do not mention where I come from every time someone asks me. "I am Iraqi- Palestinian brought up in Jordan!" I say. Whenever Jordan is mentioned in assembly announcements (some of our students go to Jordan for the AMMUN) I yell... WHOOHOO! Two months ago, my book club read The Lemon Tree suggested by a friend of mine. It is a book about my family and Ramleh. I hosted the gathering and made Palestinian dishes. So I do not hide that I am proud of where I come from and who I am but I also try very hard to fit in. Alas, I am failing. 

It is because I struggle. I struggle with continuing to be placed in the same tainted jar as the extremist. It is painful as my parents never raised me to be one. To be told something in a social circle without any sensitivity to whom it is directed to,  hurts. To be shown a drawing also in a social circle without any sensitivity to how it might make someone feel, hurts. Due to my own sensitivities, I would never do it to someone else. I would never say anything that would insult where they come from, their religion or their beliefs and if I ever did, I would be extremely apologetic. 

I respect Freedom of Speech and I believe in its power. I believe people have the right to say what they feel. BUT if one's freedom of speech hurts the feelings of a friend or a partner, then that, to me, is where it should stop. Everything has limits in this world no matter what one might tell you otherwise. When people say: "The sky is the limit," that is it... it is after all a limit. 


7 comments:

ditchingthedog said...

Lana,

You are the only Muslim I know and you are the one I tell my friends and family about. I tell them you are a pacifist and that you are kind and gentle. I tell them you desire a world where we all live together in peace.
Just keep being you. We need more Muslims like you standing up and saying THIS is what we believe.

Anonymous said...

All religions have their extremists, but where are the apologies for the barbaric or hurtful deeds done in the name of Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, etc. Throughout history there have been acts of tyranny done 'in the name of' every major religion. You are not responsible for the actions of 1.6 billion people, but you do set an excellent example for peacefulness and co-existence.

jeannine nye said...

I can understand how you feel an outsider, when people make crass remarks about anyone's religion... even if it was another named religion, it is not right to state such things when they know that you might be a muslim also... Obviously they do not care, so I would ignore them for the idiot people that they are* Any religion will have its fanatic section.. all the great religions will have had things done in the name of God, but which would not be done now.. Obviously people like yourself, being educated and intellectually advanced, would rightly so,only want to live in peace with everyone.. but if you look at the histories of these people who are committing such atrocities, you will find in the most part that they are poorly educated and not really big in intellect. Such bigots always come from backgrounds of poverty and lack of understanding.. The worst atrocities carried out in the German name you would find them in peacetime, people that had nothing to contribute and who were the lost little people that make up any town or village.. who , in wartime, they discovered that under the name of the banner of Nazi, could inflict terrible things on other humans. Please do not get too depressed, you are a fine human being, caring for other humans and your children, in the best possible way you know. Continue to teach them the right way to behave and to ignore hurtful remarks. It is hard to be quiet and keep your own counsel, but you are doing well, and good luck with your lives in this New Year*

Tabouleh said...

I am so grateful for the comments you have all written here. It warms my heart knowing that I have such supportive, understanding and loving friends in the world out there... so THANK YOU ... You are a treasure! I hope that your year will be full of positive changes, blessings and wonderful memories.

PKM said...

Lana my friend, now I see why you are so down.

Just know this world would be far less without you. For me I wish it did not matter at all where we were from (from this earth no doubt) or what religion (don't we all pretty much believe whatever it is we choose to believe anyway, even if it is often a variation of how we were raised?).

Also know that it is only a few that cause the problems, and a few that would paint us all with a broad brush. Today I am Charlie, and muslim and jew and christian and french and....

I just wish all my brothers and sisters could see it doesn't really matter, as I'm sure you must know. No need to be proud or ashamed; just be, and try to be positive as you so often do, and keep finding good & happy in this world.

PKM said...

Ah, I just realized that in part you are concerned I think by the insulting images of the prophet, and how that in turn creates turmoil in you. Both because you understand the feelings felt by those so insulted, perhaps you are insulted as well, but you also understand the need for freedom of expression. This leaves you torn, not knowing which way to turn, just knowing you would neither intentionally insult another, nor at the same time (I think) tell someone they could not express an opinion that some would find offending. It is nearly impossible to express anything controversial without offending someone, and when one feels strongly, antagonizing (with words and non-violent action) feels like the only effective course of action (or maybe it is done to simply get attention).

I recall the flag burning many Americsns participated in during the Vietnam war protests. I remember feeling sympathetic to both the protesters and the veterans who were most insulted, as their comrades died (and killed) defending what that flag represented.

The feelings are so complicated, and wrapped up in folks using whatever power they can manage to grab to influence others, each upping the stakes and costs to the other.

Find peace. Find love. Let anything less fall off your back, otherwise those who are stirring up hate will defeat you as well.

Birdie said...

Lana,

I was just thinking about you and thought I would stop by and say hello. (Actually, I think about you almost everyday when I see my pillow. I love my crow.)
I hope you are well and living in your sensitive soul with peace. It is hard. So hard. Sometimes I think it is impossible but maybe the world needs people like us to keep it going. Many days I wish I wasn't one of the sensitive ones and could just live my life and not care so much, not be so aware of hurting and sadness and grief.
But I thank God for you. I am so grateful for this blogging relationship and knowing that other people are out there like you.
Sending love. Post when you can. I remember how little time one has when her children are small.

Love,
Barbara