The months leading up to and after the U.S. Presidential Elections have left me with mixed emotions. I have been stunned and confused by the divisive speech and hate crimes being perpetuated and even endorsed by many in power, not only in my beloved U.S., but also world-wide. The cry of the not so distant past, “Never again!” fades with every seething fear monger’s pen and every hate filled fist pounding a pulpit for more death and destruction of the “other.” The louder voice calls, “You are either with us, or you’re against us!”
I cry, “Where is my beloved America headed? How is it that this land is more your land, than it is mine?” I’ve grown up here and interacted with so many different ethnicities, and that’s the very thing that has made me love my country: it’s tenacious hold on the belief that, “We are all created equal.” That’s why I am proud to be an American. I have been aware of the power-hungry in other parts of the world, where the 1% rule without regard for the suffering masses. But that’s not how it’s supposed to be here! The U.S. should be leading the way as the model for the rest of the planet. We should be seeing the humanity in each and every person, and in that we are stronger working together, for everyone’s well being, not just a randomly selected few.
While, I have been disheartened by what I have seen around me. I have also seen signs of hope. Americans who may not have been talking before to each other, are trying to have conversations, even if they begin as stilted ones. Americans who have been active for years trying to promote inclusivity, are ramping up their efforts with an infusion of new colleagues who may have been previously only inactive well-wishers. Americans are reaching out to ask their fellow Americans, “Hey, are you ok?”, and the answer is “Yes, thanks for asking, how about you?”
After the elections, I was concerned about attending my local mosque having learned of the rise of Islamophobia leading an increase in threats and hate crimes against law abiding, peaceful American Muslims. But I was very pleasantly surprised as I drove up to the first Friday prayers after the election. I found a small crowd of different ages of well-wishers of other faiths holding up signs of friendship to greet all the Muslim congregants as they drove into the parking lot of their mosque for the regular Friday sermon. Some of the signs read, “You are not alone,” “We stand with you, together,” “I love our Muslim friends,” and “Y’all means ALL!”
I waved at these dear strangers and mouthed, “Thank you!”, as I dropped my husband off at the mosque parking lot. I decided not to attend the sermon, so that I could show these kind folks how much my community and I appreciated them. I drove quickly to get them some flowers from a nearby grocery store. When I came back to hand them each a rose, I only caught a few of the sign holders as they were just dissipating. I managed to find out that they were actually strangers to each other as well, not affiliated with any organization. They happened to have shared similar ideas and connected on the Internet. Just strangers getting together to tell other strangers, “You’re welcome here.”
Meanwhile, my husband told me that inside the mosque the imam acknowledged these sign holders and their random act of kindness. He said their presence were signs of hope sent from God. May God continue to bless America.
– By Nagia E. Moharram