Dear Fear and Hate Monger’s of the World,
Hi. I’m writing to you because you’ve stolen my banner, and I finally want it back.
No, don’t give me that confused look...you know exactly what I’m talking about. That banner is my faith...and you seem to have taken ahold of it, determined to hide it’s beauty from the rest of the world.
You see, I wouldn’t have minded sharing my banner with you, except you’re adamant on holding it backwards. And to make things worse, it looks like you’ve painted all over it so I can barely tell what was written on there in the first place. And yet, you claim that it’s the same banner I’ve proudly displayed my whole life.
Hmm. I’ll admit, part of me is very angry at our predicament here. I mean, that banner is one of my most prized possessions...and here you are trying to rip it apart...thread by thread. And what’s worse, myself and co-protectors of it and its message aren’t doing enough to stop you.
As I pondered what to do, an unsettling realization dawned upon me. The anger that I’m feeling is exactly what exactly what you want me to feel. You want me to feel alienated. You want me to feel robbed of my identity. You want me to feel helpless. You want to win.
You know, I’m not some overly important policy maker (yet) or an arrogant politician. I’m just your average American citizen. Born in a little suburb someplace in Florida. Spend my Sunday’s watching football. Not really a big fan of apple pie, but you get the picture...
Wait! Before you think you can step on me and get away with it, I warn you, I’m armed with something that might give you goosebumps...I follow the Qur’an. Yes, you just read the QUR’AN! :O
Woah, before you go to call the authorities and start painting me as some crazed jihadi militant, let me elaborate a little more about what I mean exactly...
The Qur’an teaches me to be tolerant of all people...regardless of faith, ethnic background, or race. It teaches me to be kind to my neighbors...to smile in the face of those who rather argue...to have mercy on the old...to give charity to the needy...to give the salutations of peace to everyone...yes, everyone...even you.
Surprised? I figured you would be. I mean, you could have known that if you hadn’t painted lies all over my banner before getting a chance to read it...
So, I write this with one message in mind: I won’t let you win. WE won’t let you win. As human beings, we can’t afford to let you take over....to continuously drive wedges between families, neighborhoods, and nations.
I stand here with my fellow Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist, Agnostic, Spiritual, Atheist and anyone else in between with understanding in their heart, united against your tactics. Only once we stand together, hand in hand, willing to learn from and educate one another, do we have a chance in countering this wave of hatred sweeping our world.
As to those out there who are doing Fear and Hatred’s bidding: I know we’re not exactly on good terms right now...and that’s okay. You might be a bit misinformed about what I stand for, and given the present state of world affairs, I forgive you for that.
But I hope to meet you one day, even for just a minute, and smile. You know, we have a lot more in common than you think. I hope to have the opportunity to get to show you that.
For now, you see me as your enemy...However, I see you as my future friend.
And no offense to you, future friend, but you’ve been holding on to my banner for far too long. I’m taking it back now. With a little time, patience, and teamwork all the paint can be removed and the frayed edges mended...allowing its true message to finally shine through.
Don’t worry, I’m not letting you walk away empty handed. As a parting gift, here’s a short poem I read the other day:
It’s not just an empty slogan or bumper sticker
World Peace is our struggle
A struggle to overcome our fear and prejudice of others
By reaching out to learn, understand, appreciate
To discover new friends and ancient ways
Can we change...
Terror into Security
Hate into Love
And War into Peace.
My Sincerest Regards,
University of Florida
Muslim Youth For Truth Co-Founder