America the Salad

img_2540 In America, food reflects our country, and I love it! Snarfing down a lunch salad, I have quinoa, historically from the Inca civilization; couscous, typically north African; and a melee of vegetables, herbs, and spices that represent a world of cuisine. Since my days as a Sociology major, I was intrigued by cultures and subcultures, and even one of my favored professors went undercover to research the runaway prostitution train—until he was suspiciously murdered in Florida.

When I married my Palestinian husband, 35 years and 4 children ago, I anticipated a life of adventure. We’d planned to go to Saudi Arabia to become millionaires in the 80s; but I’m amused that although things did not turn out as I’d expected, we launched an export trade company and do business today with folks from many different ethnicities where we pick up smatterings of several languages and meet many fine people…here in America!

Diversity is what makes America great, and frankly I think that those who live their lives in silos are missing so much of the richness out there. As an educator, I celebrate that our schools are valuable meeting places for our children to learn about other cultures and religions first-hand.

When I was in 3rd grade, I went home with Angelica; she was Latino, and ate different food than my family. However, it was tasty! Then in 6th grade, I played at the house of my friend Patti; she was Jewish, and I learned that in a kosher kitchen one does not eat shellfish nor mix milk into scrambled eggs like my mom did. Although they were different from me, an American, Roman Catholic with Polish and Lithuanian ancestry, I considered them to be among my nicest friends.

To those people who are bent out of shape, arrogant, ethnocentric, and generally pissed off at the world, I say “Eat a samosa!” Indo-pak food is delicious! Enrich your life and appreciate the real, vibrant, and decent neighbors who are immigrants. Check out ethnic restaurants, and live a more fabulous life. In America, you have a world of possibilities, literally.

The Greatest Power

Green hummingbirdAmid the horrific headlines bringing distress over Syria, continued subjugation of the Palestinians, vituperation and bullying of immigrants and minorities, and environmental and economic dangers, it is time to acknowledge the greatest power in the universe.

Recently returned from Costa Rica, one of my children shared divinely inspired photos and videos of their adventures to the Pacific Ocean, Arenal Volcano, and the cloud forest of Monteverde. Awareness of the vitality in nature struck a contrast to the fragile, artificial urban environment we call home. The disconnect with the greatest power in the universe has led to greed, arrogance, violence, despair, and predatory injustice. Many people are drowning in depression, drug and alcohol addiction, and mind numbing pastimes in order to cope.

As the NFL draft picks are taking place in Chicago, my husband noted the high degree of commercialization and profiteering he has witnessed. It is with apperception that I find parallels with ancient Rome when corrupt aristocrats led the ignorant and impoverished people to be placated with bread and gladiator events, which were meant to quell potential rebellions. We are being “entertained” so as to not rebel against the sources of our distress, and “others” are being cast as scapegoats to account for the common man’s plights.

Such contrasts are apparent. We try to educate to promote critical thinking; yet, our media feeds us predigested sound bytes and program our expressions. Several pop celebrities debase humanity’s morals and seduce us with false confectionary-like goals of fame, fortune, and public affection. The majority of presidential candidates offer us two-faced lies and demonstrate ill manners with aplomb, while we educators try to promote virtues like honesty, mutual respect, fair play, and honor. It is vexing how convoluted society’s values have become since my youth. Yet, with reference to history, I am not optimistic, but I seek refuge from the greatest power in the universe.

This power has given us capacity to decide and act, and I choose to resist by exemplifying virtue, reliance on my own senses, prayer, and diligence to keep aware of corrupting influences for myself and my family. I believe that if we work as a tribe for goodness, regardless of nationality, religion, or other polarizing divisions, we have a chance to live on our own terms as one identity-Humanity.

“The truth has arrived, and falsehood will vanish, for falsehood always vanishes!”               –Al Isra’, (The Night Journey, 17:81).