Wednesday, September 11, 2013

How I've Changed

People often ask me how I’ve changed since I’ve returned from my Peace Corps service.  I usually tell them about my new level of patience, and how I’ve come to understand what is important to me in life, or if they’re a close friend I may tell them how I’ve become comfortable with who I am, including my hairline.  However, more recently, especially with today being 9/11, I’ve realized that since I've been abroad I've developed a new understanding of those who practice Islam.

I know that today is a hard day for all Americans.  I can remember exactly when and where I was on 9/11 and the goosebumps that ran through my body as I saw the plane crash into the first tower.  I’ve seen many beautiful posts from friends and family members remembering those we lost, but I’ve also seen some that simply eat at my heart.  The one that encouraged me to write follows:

“i am not usually outspoken, especially when it comes to political issues. In two days 1 million Muslims are marching on Washington. The SAME day they destroyed the twin towers.”

This quote was attached to a picture of an astonishing rally of bikers.  Seeing people come together is the most beautiful thing in this world.  The Washington News reported that the bikers organized the ride to Washington D.C. in part to protest a Muslim rally.  I admire the bikers coming together for those we lost, but find the comments regarding the protest of the Muslim rally hard to wrap my mind around. This is mainly because "they" did not attack the twin towers.  

Let me show you who "they" are...

Many of you have seen this woman before.
She was my host mother in my first village.  She cared for
me as if I were her own child.  When I told her I was leaving
she wept as if I was dying.  She's Muslim.

This is Musa.  He was my host brother.  He was extremely
diligent in his prayers.  He is one of the hardest working
children I know.  He is passionate about learning.  He loved
to sing Bob Marley's "Three Little Birds" and watch
sunsets with me.  He is Muslim.

This is Hawa.  She was my host mother in my
second village. She always did her work
with a smile on her face, and did
all she could to please her family and others.
She would have given me the world,
if I had asked for it.  She's Muslim.

This is my entire host family in Taibatou.  They have gathered together to pray in this picture.  They fed me, protected me, taught me, but most importantly ACCEPTED me.  They are all Muslim.

Returning, I wish that everyone could take a step outside of their box to get to know what it's like to be in someone else's box.  When it comes to religions and faith, they are truly beautiful when practiced correctly.  I wish this world could start concentrating on our similar beliefs, like our beliefs in love, kindness, or good deeds, rather than those that divide us.  This kind of answer is pretty hefty for the normal conversation, so I'll stick to my typical answers for now.  However, those of you who have followed me throughout this will know the truth.

Thank you for taking the time to read my thoughts.  May God bless you all.