Monday, April 9, 2012

Be the Change

Be the Change: We All Have Power, We All Have Choices

Have you seen this story from Bangladesh yet? 

A man who works as a rickshaw (pedicab) driver, saved half of his $6/day earnings over the course of 30 years and, with his savings, built a clinic in his home village, which was far from any medical treatment. 

This man is inspiring: he turned his anger at his community's exclusion—& the death of his father due to inadequate access to healthcare—into motivation to do something good. He was determined, and he was frugal. And he saved half that $6/day he made, and built that clinic.

While this story could serve to reinforce our notion of the persisting poverty and inequities that exist around the world, I look at it and see another lesson as well.

We all have power, and we all have choices. 

There is no doubt that economic and other constraints facing this man and many other people around the world like him are very real. 

But he shows us even in the face of such challenges, we have power, and we have choices.

He also shows us that when we act, we may inspire others. 

After news of his clinic spread, it received anonymous donations from all over, and now women and poor people in an area of the country that did not have medical care, do. 

He is a testament to patience, persistence, positive-thinking, taking responsibility to change things we don't like, frugality, charity, and commitment to justice and equity. 

Vision in action. Values in action.

My first thought was "What an amazing example of Muslim values," because I saw in him so much of what I was raised to believe Islam is about (see the list above), and because it was so refreshing to get away from the Islamophobes and what they would define Islamic values as (or the radical Islamists, for that matter, who truly to me seem to be the flip side of the Islamophobes—each with their terrorizing and restrictive understanding of Islam.). 

But I know these values are universal—we can find them in other faiths and among non-theist people too.

Connect to your vision. Connect to your values. Now put them into action. 

Love, Light, & Peace,

This blog is dedicated to my mother and father, who taught me the values I hold dear, and to, "Be the Change."

Related links: 

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

My Feet Only Walk Forward: Guest Blogger, Kamal Fizazi: A Letter to Friend About Hope and Survival

I recently wrote my first guest blog on Brandon Lacy Campos' site: My Feet Only Walk Forward: Guest Blogger, Kamal Fizazi: A Letter to Friend About Hope and Survival.

It emerged from a letter I wrote to a real-live friend, an Arab, like me (well, from a different country), thus the nickname, "Habibi", who has struggled with suicidal thoughts over the years.

Just last week, I found out another friend of mine, someone who combated HIV/AIDS, substance abuse, and depression, lost his fight. He committed suicide, jumping out of his 12-story window.

I and my friends who knew him are devastated and sad.

Why did I not know he was in such pain? What could I have done differently? How could I have been a more effective part of a solution for him?

I have personal insight into pain and loss, what it is to feel an all-encompassing despair.

So, I wrote this letter to my friend, "Habibi", sharing some of the resources I have used get through tough times. Among the things I mention is a spiritual resource, a Qur'anic prayer, Surat al-Asr. As a Qur'anic prayer, Muslims may recognize it and it may have special resonance for them, but its suggestions are spiritually universal, and I believe many people will be able to find something from their own faith tradition in it and in what I wrote in the guest blog.

I hope you will read my offering of love and compassion, and if you are so moved, comment on it and repost (use the My Feet Only Walk Forward link: My Feet Only Walk Forward: Guest Blogger, Kamal Fizazi: A Letter to Friend About Hope and Survival).

Love, Light, & Peace,