Let there arise out of you a band of people inviting to all that is good, enjoining what is right, and forbidding what is wrong: it is they that will be successful. (3:104)
I’ve always been inspired by this verse of the Qur’an. The essence of it encouraged me to join the ranks of the Plaid Women and especially the No Mean Girls campaign.
Seems we need this kind of thinking now more than ever.
Although I belong to the privileged few: upper middle class, white, American and grew up defining myself Christian, I nevertheless always had a soft spot for the underdog, the underprivileged, the special needs kids, and a need-to-know interest in various foreign exchange students and even the bussed-in inner city kids that passed through the halls at school. I never saw skin tone as much as felt the spirit or aura of another and it was on that energy I based my assumptions and friendships. Somehow, in my state of privilege, I still hankered to know others different than myself or those who had not received the abundance I enjoy.
So when I encounter hate, intolerance, fear and prejudice, I thankfully just don’t get it. Whatever is in my heart, I sure wish I could bottle up and share with others. I definitely don’t care to fully understand or feel where all that animosity comes from.
Fear drives a lot of it. Fear that we may lose something: a job, money, position, the American Way of Life. Greed: that no one deserves a share of anything that came my way regardless if it was earned or through entitlement. Jealousy: how come ‘they’ achieve, receive what is rightfully mine, etc., etc. Most of these traits fall into the 7 Deadly Sins category of Pride–Envy–Wrath–Gluttony-Lust-Sloth-Greed. And who wants to be labeled with any of these?
I perceive an awful lot of angry, unhappy people out there. And because I am that kind of touchy-feely, I-care-about-humanity person, I want to get to the bottom of it, solve their problems and make them the ways and means to happiness!
But for all those 7 Deadly Sins, I sense the core that’s missing is simply gratitude. If you look at people who weather storms and even tragedy well, content, not overly stressed 24/7, not necessarily the dead center of their universe, not dependent on substances to get by: a unifying trait of all is simply that they are thankful. Once we understand that we didn’t exactly choose our nationality, our skin color, our looks, our intelligence, our talent, our family(!) and that all this is a bit out of our hands, it dramatically opens our minds and hearts.
Perhaps the happier we are in our skin, the less antagonistic we feel about their skin. I never seem to get hassled in my scarf and I attribute that to the fact that I am quite literally Happy in my Hijaab and the energy of that translates to those who pass me by. Happiness and contentment definitely stem from a deep and abiding sense of gratitude.
And somehow being grateful brings you even more.
So what say ye Plaid Women and No Mean Girls? It is a time to stand in gratefulness for all we’ve been blessed with, link arms and go forward. Funny that the majority population of women worldwide definitely fall into the classification of an oppressed minority! So none of us can stand on the sidelines and say, I don’t need to take part. We are all in this together.
I reiterate the call in my opening: let us be that group that arises to stand for the right and forbid the wrong. Humanity is depending on us. After all, we are half the world, half the sky!