Reposting this from an entry I wrote in Sept 2010. This message rung true then and still does now.

 

“Don’t let the haters stop you from doing your thang.”-Kevin Gnapoor, Mean Girls

 

One thing that has been consistently on my mind is the Islamophobia that has been plaguing the world. It’s not just in the U.S. I recently read in Time Magazine (which I absolutely love) how the French Senate passed a bill on banning the burqa-style Islamic veil on public streets. Not only that but Switzerland has banned the building of minarets. And then I look at America and see the ruckus created over the new “mosque” on Ground Zero. Ugh this freaking upsets me so much. FIRST of all, it is not strictly a mosque, it is a large community center. Second of all, it is not being built on Ground Zero. It’s a few blocks away. People just love to be angered by something. People love to manipulate emotions to feel contempt towards something so they have something to talk about. Think carefully before you speak. Or even better-just listen. Listen to what the other side has to say rather than getting caught up in your own emotions.

Okay so I don’t want to write about political arguments because a) I hate politics b) I probably can’t even construct a proper political argument because that is definitely not my thing and c) That is not the point of me writing this post!

So what I want to say is that out of the 61% of Americans that oppose the community center being built AWAY from Ground Zero, only 37% of people know a Muslim American. How do you criticize something, if you don’t understand it? Do people even understand that out of the 1.3 billion peace-preaching Muslims in the world, only a tiny fraction of extremists have turned to terrorism? Actually, do people even understand that Islam is about peace and love just as much as Christianity is? Don’t criticize something you don’t understand. Let them be. Period.

On a smaller spectrum of things, don’t you hate it yourself when people criticize you for doing something differently from them? Doesn’t it bother you when someone says, “You’re weird,” “Why do you have your hair like that?” “Why do you always talk like that?” It sure as freaking hell bothers me. I am who I am. I have my own quirks. You do things your own way and even if it’s weird or awkward I’ll love you for it.

Empathy and understanding really does go a long way. Obviously it’s a naive thought to think that empathy and understanding will fix everything, but at least trying to understand someone and why they do things the way that they do is just so important to just living. Just accept people for who they are and stop the hating.

So before you start to being a negative Nancy on people, stop and take the time to do one of two things:
a) Take the time to actually understand their background, their struggles, weaknesses, passions, beliefs, etc. Only through that will anyone be able to develop an understanding of why someone is the way he/she is and why someone behaves in a certain manner. I find myself pleasantly surprised every single time I get to know someone on a deeper level.
b) Just accept people for the way they are-such a simple concept-but if it’s that simple, why isn’t it achieved?

Everyone has a story, a secret, that’s molded and perfected them to be the imperfect being they are. It can make or break that person and it’s only up to you to understand that story.

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