As I close my eyes and drift away to a land where there is love, health, peace, and blessings. I wanted to take the time to think and reflect. The truth is that the words that I will write have been brewing inside me and around me for more than a few days. However, as most writers will probably understand, it is that simple moment that ignites inside to say "it is time to write", it is that moment that allows the ink to flow.
My writing is an extension of my previous thoughts. It reflects my first visit to the United States Of America. As the plane landed, I looked out of the window, such lush greenery, beauteous lands. Beautiful lands, my views challenged me to think about the idea of a stereotype threat.
A stereotype threat simply means that if a person is from a minority, a marginalized person, or someone who is living within the periphery of a society. This individual or group of individuals will be prone to a stereotype threat. For example: My ethnic roots are South Asian. My skin colour is "brown", I am prone to the threat of racism. The threat is not saying that I will be stereotyped, however, it is saying that the likelihood of me being prone to a racial slur, gesture, or maybe even an act of violence is likely to happen. I can definitely back this concept with my own personal experiences. Many of my readers have probably also experienced racism, it saddens me to think that we are still grappling with these kinds of issues in this century, it seems like these issues are somewhat resolved, but the truth is, it continues, on and on. Racism may not be displayed explicitly, but at the level of implicit, it exists. These may be seen through the lens of systemic.
But what happens to a nation , what happens to a nation when it is stereotyped? We talk about individuals and groups, but what about nations? I am specifically thinking about this land, that my heart has touched, that my feet have walked upon. Many invasions have taken place overseas, and many acts of terror have happened, and continue to happen within this land. Ideas of fear will be posited, and there will be stereotypical thoughts about a nation. For example: before I visited America, I thought that I may encounter racism, or even Islamophobia. But wow! Can I tell you, it was the exact opposite, truly it was. Everyone that I met was so friendly and so loving, beyond measure. I was so astonished. It was remarkable. As I stood to view The White House I was even more speechless when I heard Arabic music playing. It was a real awakening, as this experience challenged my own implicit stereotype of a nation. I began talking with the people, listening to what they had to say about America, there were no hateful ideologies mentioned.
As I take the time to think about my experiences, I take a moment to conclude. I have encountered many many prejudices. I think that I also had my own biases about this land, which were probably invoked because of what we see in the media. I am glad that I met with the people, I am glad that I walked this land for myself. My perspectives have shifted to that of the utmost love and respect.
My experiences can be related to that of individual differences. We are all different in our unique sense. This is something that I have been saying for a long time. If we were all the same then I think that it would be very boring. Our difference is our own divinity. It makes us who we are as a human being. Just like that of a nation. We have our biases or prejudices, but to unlearn these we have to learn them, know that they do exist so that we can adjust our own ways of thinking for the positive. We can shift to a positive by getting to know the "other". When we interact with people of difference, engage in meaningful conversations at the level of heart - we can shift our own perspectives to realize that it is our humanity that unites us. When all is said and done, we are unique, we are different, yet all that we want to do as humans is to survive. This is the same of minorities as well as majorities. So why do we hate and hurt one another, if all we are trying to do is survive? Why should a majority be better than a minority, or why should a minority be better than a majority? It is with these thoughts I challenge you to get to know someone, or just engage in a conversation with someone who you would not normally associate with. Take the time to listen and maybe hug one another.
Dedication: The words of this being are dedicated to the American people, thank you for loving me. These words are also dedicated to our leaders who are also striving for peace, you are the sages, and you know the truth, love Shazia.
As I close my eyes and drift away to a land where there is love, health, peace and blessings. I wanted to take the time to think and reflect. The truth is I am genuinely an optimist. When things are not going so great I always try to remain positive, always trying to find the little details to be grateful for. However, I have been a little unsettled for the past week. A relentless sense of hopelessness. A "hitting" a rock bottom type of feeling if you will. Almost as though I am standing at the bottom of a well, with my hands scraping the sides, reaching, stretching, trying to find a way to climb out. But with every push, with every pull, a simple sense of getting no where. This feeling over took me, not only at the level of emotion, but also at the physical level. So it decided to take over me, but I decided to take myself out so that it would not take over me.
As I wondered this land, a land that I had never walked before, but a land which is so near and dear, my heart - America. I wondered to find beautiful blossoms. I walked and walked feeling the air, admiring the sights, a sense of deep peace shrouded my entire being, it was the peace that I had been searching for, for years, it was found. I walked and was grateful, for these moments and memories. I climbed the stairs to find myself excited to discover The Library of Congress. Wow! Can you believe it? A library devoted to Thomas Jefferson. Wow, a beautiful delight!
She walks into her Majesty
Colors of royalty,
Stunned of the magnificence, the beauty. I simply had to stand still, let my eyes wonder, to breathe in this magnificent splendor. As I write I am taken back to this moment. I reflect. Why did I travel to Washington anyway? I never leave the kids, it is almost as though I was fated to travel these lands to re-awaken the heart.
As I continued to explore, well what can I tell you, there are no words to describe what I felt, but I will say: My jaws dropped, I was in a state of shock as I entered to see Jefferson's library collection. I found Shakespeare and even Plato books on these shelves. My heart was ignited. I began to relate his collection to my own book shelf, we have the same interests. I felt a heavy tear roll down my cheek.
And guess what? As though I wasn't stunned enough, it was astounding. I saw Jefferson's hand-written letters. Jefferson wrote letters, just like me. Can you believe this. Jefferson wrote letters, it took me a while to take in these beautiful gems. I thought about the book collection, the letters, and simply could not help but to connect these to myself and my own interests. What is this yearning, what is this calling in my heart that I have been searching for, for years and years? What is it? If only Jefferson were alive. I wish I could have met him.
On a note of learning:
As I walked I came across a piece of writing and image that was called: "A New Library For Congress And The Nation." In this piece I learned about the British forces that burned the unfinished buildings in the Capital city (1814). This truly saddened my heart. As I take the time to reflect, I think. Our histories are harsh, however it would be misleading if our human mind / brain did not take the time to acknowledge and learn these. When we learn these we simply expand our own knowledge and ways of thinking.
As I traveled back to the present day, I thought about the event of the National Security Summit 2016, I felt grateful for the presence of world leaders including the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, the Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, meeting with our President Barack Obama. This meeting gave me hope, a hope that our leaders will strive to work together. To promote a positive outlook for the children, whose eyes are yearning for a peaceful today and tomorrow.
When we learn the harsh histories, it is through this level of awareness that we can begin to cultivate, and develop a sense to prevent these histories from repeating. If we want a new today and tomorrow, we must seek out new solutions, new strategies to promote dialogues and understandings between nations.
Dedication - The words of this being are dedicated to Thomas Jefferson, I am so grateful for the opportunity to visit this beautiful piece of history. You awakened my heart. These words are also dedicated to the American people a sign of my trust, especially the cab drivers, I learned so much from you all, thank you for all that you do. My thoughts with love and kindness, Shazia.
Notes: These thoughts were originally hand-written on 11th April 2016.
Our thoughts, to invite and inspire. With Love & kindness. :)