America. The Land of the Free, The Home of the Brave (well, sometimes - when conditions permit)
The Muslim community has experienced a lot of hate the past decade in America. It’s no secret.
And especially in the last 2 years, ever since the conception and unprecedented rise of ISIS, Muslims have been increasingly targeted as a threat to American safety and security.
So much so, that our chief executive found it necessary to ban immigrants and refugees from seven Muslim-majority countries - Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen.
Never before has country seen such an outright exclusion of members of any certain ethnicity or religion, since the Chinese Exclusion Act was passed by President Chester A. Arthur in 1882.
Congratulations, Mr. Trump. You’ve managed to push us back almost 150 years in social progress within less than a week of your inauguration. I honestly cannot wait to see what’s in store for us for the next 4 years.
(and while we’re at it, why don’t we also ban lightning, knives, sharks, ladders, and anything else that could potentially cause us harm?)
So, yes, it seems horrible. It seems to violate every founding principle of our great nation, taint all our values of equality and justice and elimination of oppression.
But I didn’t write this post to mourn the events of the past week, blame Trump or even lament the oppression of Muslim Americans and Muslims across the world.
I wrote this post because I was inspired. In the past week, while all these confusing events were occurring, I was enlightened, and reminded that for every xenophobic, there is someone who truly cares about you, someone who embodies real American values. The ones praised about in textbooks, like compassion and a sense of justice for your fellow citizens.
At my mosque, a few weeks ago, we received a hate letter. One that was filled with words so vile that they could not be repeated in this post. I always knew there was a sentiment of hatred against Muslims - but this had hit just a little too close to home.
Were there really people who hated us so much they were willing to go out of their way to write and mail a letter about how terrible we were and how we should go back to wherever we came from??
I had always believed these people only existed on the Internet, hiding their hatred and feelings of insecurity behind a keyboard. Only on Twitter, on Facebook, in a nasty blog post. Never someone I could actually come in contact with.
But no. They were real.
But the very next week, we came to Sunday school to be overwhelmed by more letters - letters of positivity. One hate letter completely swarmed out by hundreds of letters of comfort, reassurance, and love. I’m not kidding - actually hundreds. They came from all over the country, from Massachusetts to California to Washington state. Letters from families and teachers and churches and elementary schools.
These people were real too.
I was shocked - so many people actually cared enough to write of their solidarity with us? But I was most of all, touched. Maybe there was some good left in humanity after all :)
I’m attaching just a few of these letters below - beacons of hope when you feel all hope is lost.
(↑ this last one is so cute)
So now my assignment from Sunday school is to respond to one of these letters. But perhaps that will be the hardest part of all - because I don’t think any words that I know could ever express the love and gratitude I feel for these people who have reached out and gone out of their way to personally comfort, to reassure, and to console a group of people they don’t even know.
It just goes to show that there is always someone out there looking out for you, someone who believes in the virtues of our great country, and that love always trumps hate.