(Image from the New York Times)
This is one of my shortest pieces - clocking in just about a thousand words, so I can't say too much about it without giving away major spoilers.
Here's what I can say. It's a fiction piece about an Iraqi refugee's experience of 9/11, and it deals with the theme of finding the courage to have compassion and let the 'other' in.
What drew me to writing this was reflecting on the rise of anti-Arabism in the United States after 9/11, and how those communities reacted. When I was doing my master's research, I visited an Arab Christian monastery on the east coast. The clergy there were guarded around me, and it was mainly due to the fact that I was a stranger and that they dealt with racism firsthand.
I've always wanted to tell a story from that perspective, as well as a story about 9/11. I didn't want to write a political piece as much as a contemplative piece - about why it is we push entire cultures and people away in the name of fear and rugged individualism.
I hope people take something out of the piece - and I'm not sure what they could take. That's not up to me to decide. But I hold to the firm conviction that until we understand the root of our fears, we will never see a day without war.
One of my favorite Catholic mystics, Thomas Merton, famously wrote, “Instead of hating the people you think are war-makers, hate the appetites and disorder in your own soul, which are the causes of war. If you love peace, then hate injustice, hate tyranny, hate greed - but hate these things in yourself, not in another.”
I hope that the piece is received well, and is seen totally with the intention I had for it.
Collateral Journal has also been a dream publication of mine, so I'm excited to see my work feature there.
For more information, visit https://www.collateraljournal.com/ .