This photo is going around on the internet right
now, like some cheap meme with the caption “Here’s a photo for all those upset
about the Muslim ban.“ I was compelled to write a response. I know this is a
tumblr for Pokemon GO and I’ve tried my best for these months to keep posting
fun things about this fandom but I cannot stay silent. I am sorry for the
deviation from the norm you have all come to expect from me, but this I cannot
abide. This is my message:
My father worked at the World Trade Centers from 1998-2001. He survived that day because he took me to school that morning when I was in my third or fourth day of 6th grade. This isn’t about my father, though, because he can tell his story in his own way when he feels it is appropriate. I will explain my own story.
I had been pulled out of class that morning. They didn’t tell me what had happened, just assuring my 11 year old self that my father was okay and that there was a fire at the World Trade Centers. I know they were lying. They couldn’t put me in touch with my father. I knew something was wrong. I knew about the 1993 bombings. I often wondered what would happen in the towers fell on the city, looking down on it from above, if such an attack were to happen again.
Sitting in the principals office I was filled with anger, sadness, disgust, loneliness, despair, anxiety, depression and chaos. My father might have been dead, killed by terrorist from a land I knew nothing about. I sat in that office for 45 minutes thinking nothing but that.
Then my mom came to get me. She told me my father was okay. Then I saw him. He was crying. We hugged. I told him that as long as he was okay I was okay. That made everything okay.
I had every right to be upset and vindictive against the muslim community because of the acts of an element of radical extremists attempting to murder my father. In fact some of my peers actually encouraged me to fill my hear with hate and anger, to put aside my childish wonder of the world and build walls in my heart to separate me from the muslim faith as a whole. The propaganda on television and the fact we were entering into two wars as retribution for September Eleventh didn’t help.
But I couldn’t do it. Something inside of me wanted to answer the burning question of “why?”. So I did some research in the middle school computer lab and very quickly found my answer. There is a large contingent of radical terrorists, of every nation and faith, that are drawn to the cause because they have no other options. I read that a suicide bomber in Iraq was paid $20,000 to carry out his attack. This money was needed for his family to pay for shelter, electricity, food, water, security and heat. The basic essentials that allow us to be human and not think with hate and sadness but rather with compassion and understanding. The people in Afghanistan, in the mountainous regions, join extremist groups because they have no resources to sustain their life.
That was when I learned about the concept of ‘sustainability’. The Brundtland Report in 1987 defined sustainability loosely as any action that leaves the world in a better or same state as the way you came into it. I decided at that point, as a 12 year old, to not fight the extremists with a gun, but rather to help get the muslim community the essentials they need so they never have to feel like terrorism is the only way to support themselves, their family or have their message heard.
Islamic extremists tried to kill my family. I do not hate the muslim community. I am a vocal opponent of the muslim ban, registry or oppression. All people no matter what race, creed, nationality, faith, background, color, gender, sex, identification, whatever deserve to be treated as human beings. Because thats what we all are when you get down to it. We are humans, of many glorious and wonderful backgrounds and interests, that should work together rather than divide ourselves. We are one species no matter what you look like or sound like. The blood that runs through my veins runs through the veins of the man in Iraq, Afghanistan, Turkey, Somalia, France, Russia, China, North Korea, everywhere.
We are a nation that has a proud history of accepting people of all backgrounds. I am German. If this ideology had been pervasive in the 1930-40s then wouldn’t I have been held accountable for the actions of the Nazi’s in the same way that people of the muslim faith are persecuted for the actions of the extremists? I have muslim friends. If I can not hate them, can you try to exercise a little empathy for the innocent people caught up in this?
I will leave you with a couple of quotes for thought:
“In these days of difficulty, we Americans everywhere must and shall choose the path of social justice…the path of faith, the path of hope, and the path of love toward our fellow man.” - Franklin Roosevelt
“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” - Statue of Liberty
Love always. Reject hate. Be compassionate. Be empathetic. Love thy neighbor. Protect the innocent. Fight for the oppressed. Crush evil. Be vigilant. Be strong. Be good.
I love you all. Remember that, always.