Last week I spoke of my broken heart and how many were being rejected the freedom they so desperately wanted, and even some had thought they’d had until that point. Broken. Hearted.
The executive order is still breaking my heart, and I can’t get past the fear that it seems to perpetuated.
In 2001, I was a sophomore in small town Texas. I knew about other places but my school was pretty much all white, Hispanic, and African American. I don’t think I really knew much about Islam unless I read something about it in a book, which, let’s be real, is probably true for all non Baptist denominations and religions. I grew up Southern Baptist.
So September 11 happened, and I, in all my maturity of a 15 year old, was singing, “It’s the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine,” not realizing at that point how true it was. I didn’t understand the importance of the acts of a select few terrorists at that time. I had no idea what was really happening. People at Christian universities will say they live in a “bubble.” The same can be said for small towns, or at least my small town.
Yet somehow, even in that moment when fear started creeping more and more into our culture, I knew I couldn’t blame one religion for the actions of a few extremists. I wanted to learn more about Islam. I wanted to talk to women who wore hijab, or men who wore a yarmulke (by the way, i learned YEARS later there was a synagogue about an hour away. AND even more recently did I learn about a mosque in that same town.) I longed for a class that would teach “cultural sensitivity,” as my mom put it. Perhaps, at this point in time, God, in His infinite wisdom, was preparing me for college, and, eventually, my job with the Prince and his family. Eventually, I did get to take classes in which I learned more about Islam and Judaism, about Daoism, Jainism, Buddhism, and Hinduism. When I learned about Zoroastrianism and the influence that it had on the Bible and Judaism, I was amazed. My heart leaped with joy.
While I understand the fear many have toward refugees and immigrants from countries that don’t seem to line up with our very Western ideology, the best way to combat that fear is not with bans and walls and refusal to let them in, but rather knowledge. Learning what they believe, learning why they believe it, learning why they want to leave their homeland, learning their culture. This knowledge, this desire to learn, will only open more doors. It takes time. It’s not an easy solution. But it stops fear.
The world is filled with immigrants, even here.
-Karen, the descendant of German, Irish, Scottish, and English Immigrants. Also the descendant of Tennessean immigrants to Texas. Currently a transplant from Texas to Colorado. See? Immigrants, yo.