Lessons Learned

7-30-2017

Just because the books say it, doesn’t make it so. 

Time to wax philosophical.In school, I have learned lots of regurgitated information from the teachers that I have had. I have read many a research journal, have read all types of information on a wide variety of subjects. But until you put those written theories into practice, apply the knowledge, obtain the results for yourself, you are nothing more than a walking information stuffed talking head.

For example, every travel book I read, every informed person I have talked to, the facts were bluntly stated, YOU Don’t want to stay in Casablanca. It’s too: dirty, congested, not safe, nothing to see, nothing to do, dull, leave after seeing the largest Mosque…

True, it is congested. It is busy. And if you are on a trip to visit only tourist stuff, you might not want to stay for a lengthy time.

On the other hand, it is a fascinating place. Probably due to having stayed with a family with extended family members who shared conversations with us. This experience has shown me a different perspective from the ones read about.

While traveling, I met a doctor who has just accepted a position in Texas. He and his wife have been traveling to a variety of places over an almost 3 month trip taking full advantage of having completed his medical studies.

He is a Pakastani Muslim, who was born and raised in a small town in upper New York state. For his whole life, he has been in the minority…the odd one… the different one… and now, the highly suspicious one. Based solely on his appearance and religion. He said that he doesn’t want his future children to go through what he himself had gone through due to living in small towns and small mindsets. He accepted a job in Dallas, because there is a larger infrastructure, support system for Muslims. He will be with others who not only share his religious beliefs, but also practice them.

During our conversation, he revealed that he and his wife had lived in an apartment complex during his medical studies that consisted mostly of Mormons. They were welcomed and embraced by this community, and he didn’t feel like he was different, nor did his wife feel stigmitized for wearing her hijab. They were respected for their religious beliefs. “Our religions have many things in common,” he said.

Isn’t it fascinating that in the U.S. where we have the freedom to practice our religion, it is yet a place where we are suspicious of others whose religion differs from one’s own? 

In our tour group, a woman expressed pride in her community for having driven Mormons out of her state ( she is not the best informed about the population of LDS in her state) due to their religious beliefs. The Governor of Missouri issued an extermination order against 15,000 Mormons in 1838. How’s that for a governor. And yet this woman, who is a teacher, believes that this was a good thing. Go figure.

Same woman kept pushing tour guides into answering questions about Muslims and Isis. You can’t be both as the one contradicts the other. Muslim religion doesn’t support the actions of Isis. It is like being a polygimist and LDS. You can’t be both. 

So I have had the lessons of bigotry, racism, sexism, intolerance of others taught to me again and again on this trip to Morocco. But I also have sat with a great many Muslim women and men, in which we conversed on a variety of subjects. We discovered that we share a lot in common. It always came back to the belief of treating one another respectfully due to that we are all one in the eyes of  God. Instead of lumping people together, take the time to communicate on an individual level in order to find the common threads.

Just because it is written, doesn’t mean the generalizations are true in practice

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