The Inuit spent every winter passing down the oral history and legends of elders to the next generation. When hunting was at a lull, the storytellers spent time with the children, guiding them and reminding them that they are the torchbearers of tomorrow. I was not born in those times or those lands, but I have spent many days learning from their wisdom; be it over Iqaluk or reading a great book. One of the lessons I learned is to spend quality time with children. As summer frees up the time for our children from regular school learning, it presents an ideal opportunity for me to try and set the right growth conditions for them.
My youngest son decided to impress me with a video demonstrating the ‘toy’ he wanted. It was a news item about hovering shoes with a link to a website that sold the product. Needless to say, I was impressed. Shoes that hover two feet off the ground, given you avoid puddles and dirt, with forward propulsion and ability to last almost an hour are not only perfect but practical for getting around town. Intrigued by the possibilities, we decided to investigate further with intent to purchase. It was only after reading customer reviews, product specifications and other marketing material that we discovered a line, buried deep in the text: “This video is intended as an April Fool’s joke.” Truly a disappointment!
For the first time in almost a score of years, my wife and I found ourselves looking at each other – without any distractions. No errands to run, no dishes to wash, no mess to clean up. With kids safely with their grandparents, we found ourselves filled with joy, like happy teenagers whose parents are off to Hawaii for a month!!
In the past decade or so, a horrendous word has become part of our common language; terrorist! Islamist and Jihadist have taken root in about the same time. Putting the two together, we find ourselves facing a term that is awesome for the economy yet fearful for you and I. It allows nations to steal natural resources to their hearts desire, it allows wolves to sell guns, bombs. It sells news and makes the world go round, at least for those left standing. It is fearful in terms that our lives may be cut short by those who subscribe to such horrors.
Today, we find ourselves facing this apprehensive term: Islamist Terrorist. What is an Islamist Terrorist? Put simply, this is a term attributed towards people who claim to commit murder in the name of Allah. Allah being Muslim name for God of Abraham, of Ishmael and Isaac, of Buddha and Krishna, of Moses and Jesus.
Some claim that Allah told them to do so. Some claim that they are defending the honour of the Holy Prophet of Islam. Some point out that they are merely protecting their right to bear arms. All have one thing in common, they kill. They take away children from mothers and destroy peace, annihilating all that is good for mankind!!
I too fear these barbaric people, for I am a Muslim. I raise my children on the principles of Islam, the very fundamentals of Islam. Does that make me a terrorist? Am I raising warmongers or peacemakers? You may wonder, what does Islam teach? In a nutshell, Islam teaches that God created everything and He is the Most Gracious and the Most Merciful. He does NOT desire ill for us. Islam teaches that all life is precious and killing a person is like killing the entire human race! My elders have taught me that being unkind is equally bad, so be watchful of your covenants and relations; your word is your promise, so honour it. That is what I teach my children. All humans are equal, they all deserve respect and they all deserve love. Harmonious living is not a dream, it is a reality. Let’s embrace it. Let’s live it!!
Many moons ago, I was afraid of African friends, of folks from First Nations. I was fearful of those who had tattoos, shaven heads and pierced bodies! I would cross the street and take the long way if I saw such folks walking my way. Till one day, when I read the last message of the Prophet of Islam, I realised, that we are all equal. Children of the same God. My first step was to learn, to get to know the ones I feared. Today I have friends who are proud to be African, who are Cree and Mikmaq, who have Tattoos and body piercing. I’m not afraid. I take my children to diversity festivals and encourage them to be friends with minorities, with those whom they fear. Alas, that cannot be said true of many other parents who are fearful. Fearful of colour, of clothes that are different and languages they do not understand, of food they do not like. It is this fear that they do not understand and it is this fear that they instil into the hearts of their offsprings.
Children are born of innocence. It is our job as parents to help them grow, to nurture them, to groom them, to make them a citizen of this world. They are unafraid. As our children learn from us, we can learn from them. They can help us grow! If you are afraid, hold their hand and let their energy flow through you. Let them guide you to open diverse doors, each colourful and exotic with its own story.
On one hand we talk about freedom of choice, freedom of words, schools free of uniforms, of religion, and children free to do what they please, yet we complain that ‘they’ are not like us? There are too many of ‘them’ and ‘they’ are taking away our lifestyle? What lifestyle are you preserving my dear? One of fear, of distrust? Isn’t that what killed 50 people in Orlando? Isn’t that what has killed Millions in Syria and Iraq? Do you stand proud of Adam Lanza and Seung-Hui Cho? Do you find yourself echoing words of Arnaud Amalric “Kill them all. For the Lord knows those that are His own?” Syndicates like National Rifle Association and Islamic State thrive on this fear. Don’t let them grow! Don’t become a means of prosperity for the ones who are out to destroy peace.
I spend countless hours with my children, guiding them towards humbleness, towards meekness. In moments of uncertainty, I seek energy from them and let the words of the Prophet mentor us. He advised us to ask the learned, speak with the wise and associate with the poor.
There is much to be said, much to be learned, much to be heard. Fear will only leave you standing where you are today. Grow with love, grow in peace.
I leave you today with a thought that we live and breathe everyday. Love for All, Hatred for None.
Till we meet again, stay in peace, and grow in diversity!
In a word, tranquility. Not that Prairies weren’t tranquil, but the sound of waves called out to me once too often. My lovely maiden concurred and the story began. A Nor’easter welcomed us and the land embraced us. Kids were young and beauty abound, it was a great move! It was a tranquil move.
Our first summer was hot. Humid and Hot. The gentle waves of north shore were warm enough to recharge us from the weariness of travel. The gentle summer breeze, rolling over red sands, caressed the trees and eased our stress; and we welcomed it, with delight.
Moving is difficult. Crazy. Leaving behind the sounds that surrounded us, the serenity that captivated us, the love that bound us was hard. It was our faith that kept us strong. Our friends heartened us, our faith stimulated us and we began our journey to abide in Prince Edward Island.
Lesson learned: Change is necessary, change is essential. We must be strong hearted. It can be rewarding, but comes at a price. Andre Gide observed, eloquently, that “Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.”
If you know someone who needs to be strong hearted, reach out. Touch them. Hold their hand; comfort them with your words; hearten them with your energy. Be a friend. Help them be strong hearted. Help them be tranquil.
In the end, all praise belongs to God, Creator of the world. God is, in a word, tranquility.
Be in peace. See you soon!