Tuesday, September 11, 2007

It's Complicated

I, of course, woke up full well aware of what today was. What I wasn't prepared for was the fact that the school principal and teacher would make announcements about it. Honestly, I'm not sure how I feel about the fact that they did. You see 9/11 is complicated for us. We are Americans. My husband and children are also Muslim. So when my son came home and asked "Mommy, who attacked America six years ago today?" my heart started beating a little faster. You see what is a simple answer becomes very complicated. I could answer this vaguely by saying terrorists (which is what I did)! But then the more I thought about it the more I realized he is likely to hear other kids talking about "those Muslims" that attacked us and how confusing it might be for him, so I tried to explain it in eight-year-old terms. The more I talked the more complicated it became. It's complicated for me, too. I love my country and to think of what happened that day makes my blood boil, but I can't take the easy American high road and blame it solely on religion. First is the simple fact that not a single one of the Muslims I know is capable of that kind of hatred. Nor are the vast majority of them, regardless of what mainstream journalists would have us think. Then I have to stop and think about the why's. The history that preceded this event and how it may have played a role. Please do not interpret that to mean that I think the US brought it on themselves. While I do understand, from a much different perspective than many Americans, how deeply seated the anger towards the US is in the Middle East, I don't for a minute think that anyone deserves to have a violent act perpetrated against them. Most certainly not innocent civilians!

I wasn't sure I wanted to blog this, and I hope that I haven't lost any readers over it, but it is an ongoing issue for me. How do I help my children have pride in their religious tradition while remaining aware of the fact that they could face hatred based solely on religion. Certainly our family is not alone in facing this dilemna or a similiar one.


Karin said...

Marianna, I tell my children (and everyone else who might have it wrong) that the men responsible for the attacks on 9/11 were terrorists who did not represent any country or religion. To make a sweeping generalization about any race, religion, or nationality is wrong. I think the key is education. You have to know that your children will face this kind of prejudice at some point, so prepare them. Talk about the things that they might hear and help them to prepare responses that are eloquent and rational. I wonder if your school would be interested in a cultural learning unit? Maybe you could cook some dishes from your husband's country and bring pictures and stories to share? We are doing something similar in my daughter's class at school. I feel for your children. It's hard. As a child, I had to constantly defend my heritage and culture. It is hard, but it is also an opportunity to learn and grow. It will instill in your children a strong sense of compassion and justice in a way that you could never teach them with stories and examples.

Splaneyo said...

Well, it is hard to follow such a great comment, but she is right - education is the key. You certainly haven’t lost a reader here.

Mrs. Pivec said...

Karin's comment was terrific. Marianna, I thank you for your candor and honesty. :) Yes, I believe it was terrorist extremists (who can be found in *any* religion) and who give such a sad name to those they proclaim to represent.

I feel like I have a small understanding of the role of U.S history's involvement in the middle east. It's not pretty. I agree with you that no one deserves violence. At the same time I think one can only act the bully for so long (in some ways) and expect nothing in return. That is a sweeping statement, I know, and I love many things about our country: the freedoms it provides and the principles upon which it was founded. That doesn't stop me from questioning bad behavior, though. That's another freedom we enjoy.

I sympathize with your situation.

rhonda jean said...

I agree with Karin and the other ladies. Education is the key and you're doing that a bit at a time. As your children grow, you can explain more to them so they grow up proud of who they are, their heritage and their country.


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