My “Jewish Bubble”

Education, Politics, Religion

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You may have noticed that I haven’t posted anything in a while. Or maybe you haven’t. One of the reasons I haven’t posted anything is because I’ve been uninspired. It’s difficult to find relevant topics that are both interesting and informative without being offensive. Most of my information is based on news, fact, and experience.

Experience, in my opinion, is irrefutable. However, many people don’t necessarily believe much of what is said out of experience to be true. They may think, “Well, just because that applies to you, doesn’t mean it applies to everyone.” Or even, “Well, she’s lying.”

Facts are also, in my opinion, irrefutable. Unless the other party believes everything is a conspiracy against them. In that case, I think maybe a psych eval is in order. But what do I know?

News. News isn’t irrefutable. It can be biased, it can be skewed, and it can be downright misleading. Which is why, generally, I will use sources that are as close to neutral as I can find, or even sources from both sides of a particular issue that support my findings. Those can be the hardest to find, because typically no two sources of opposing views will tell the same story. So then one must read between the lines, find the middle ground, and come to a reasonable, if modest, conclusion.

By the time you cross check references, recall past conversations, and weed out all the crap to get to the base truth, your coffee is cold, your toast is stale, and you missed lunch.

In short: it’s a pain in the ass. These posts usually take me several hours to write up. I will spend the better part of a day working on some posts, and I’ll have a couple people look them over to check for inaccuracies, or possibly offensive material. I also veer off topic on occasion and have to make an effort to stay focused. Today I’m going to touch on a rather interesting topic (for me anyway):

Community Bubbles.

This is a topic from which I usually steer clear. I have extremely strong feelings about this, but I will try to keep this civil and contained. If you’re not sure what a community bubble is, think about groups of people who isolate themselves from “evil outside influences” so as not to corrupt the pure, innocent minds of their children. Sound familiar? Moving on.

I’d like to focus on a tidbit of a conversation I had a few days ago. I was discussing various topics with a person dear to me. Naturally, religion and politics came up. I shared a few of my thoughts on the ISIS situation, and about terrorism in general.

I should note the person I spoke with is a Muslim. She expressed the thought that the word “terrorist” is a derogatory term, and that it should not be spoken lightly. I kind of agree…sometimes. It just depends.. I mean, if you’re seriously accusing someone of terrorism, it would be wise to watch what you’re saying. If you have non-Muslim friends who jokingly call you a terrorist because you’re Muslim or Arab, getting butthurt and blowing up at them [pun intended] isn’t going to help your case. But you know, whatever. That’s neither here nor there. So back to my story.

Well, after I expressed some thoughts on ISIS, she mentioned my blog, and how she disagrees with my opinion that Muslims need to speak out against ISIS. She does not believe that ISIS is Islam. She believes they are a conspiracy created by Western governments to lead Muslims away from Islam. Essentially, to created people like me who are like, “Whoa! Dude, chill out! This shit’s gettin’ a little crazy!” So in her opinion, and many Muslims’ opinions, ISIS is not their problem, and it is not their duty to condemn them, because ISIS does not represent Muslims because they’re really a bunch of Western non-Muslims purposely setting out to make Muslims look bad.

Yeah. But I’m not going to get into my opinion of that, because people will end up not reading the rest of my post. Which I think will hopefully get to some interesting stuff. But to get closer to the point I’m trying to make, I’m going to say that I was flabbergasted and tried to make a few more points to argue my case. At which point she said something along the lines of:

Amira, you’re in your little Jewish bubble. You’re not getting the whole picture.

If I could insert a little voice clip of brakes screeching to a halt, I would. But for now, just imagine every wheel in my head coming to a dead stop. Even the crickets stopped chirping. And I’m like, How the hell do I even respond to that?!

Here’s how:

In the beginning, I was born in Abu Dhabi. A moderate Muslim city. I went to an all-girl school, where I was taught the core subjects and Islamic Studies. When we moved to America in 2000, I went to the Islamic School of Kansas City (ISKC), where I associated with my Muslim friends, wasn’t allowed to use social media (this is a household thing, not a community thing), and lived within a little Muslim Community. I did not have any non-Muslim friends, was encouraged not to associate with non-Muslims in a manner other than a professional one, and any of the Muslim girls who did not follow Islam as suggested by the Community were talked about in such a way that made you think, “Man. Sucks to be her.”

I started college in 2007, where I took a Creative Writing class, made some friends and met the man who would later become my husband. Alex and I became great friends, and in 2009 we got married. I remember thinking when I found out he was a Jew, “Seriously. I had to find the one Jew on campus!” Anyway. Alex considers himself Jewish. His mother is a Messianic Jew, and his father is a Methodist. My closest friends here are Catholic, Missionary Baptist, Methodist/Episcopalian, and whatever they call a person who goes to The Christian Church. Just Christian? I don’t know. Disciple of Christ? I’m feeling a little ignorant right now. But back to my point. I currently am hosting an awesome foreign exchange student from Pakistan who is Muslim. Every weekend, my mother-in-law’s exchange students hang out at my house. The Spanish one is Atheist, and the Chinese one is Buddhist. I have friends and acquaintances who call themselves Wiccan. Some who consider themselves Pagan. My grandfather-in-law is Southern Baptist. My husband’s uncle is also Missionary Baptist and goes to the same church as my friends. My son’s bus driver is an elder at the Baptist Church right next door to my house. He invited us to a candle lighting ceremony last Christmas, which I did attend. My local gas station is run by my Muslim Shi’a friend, we call him Sonny. His son won first place in the baby contest this year, and his wife is a sweetheart. Some of my friends include US Veterans of the Iraq War and the Gulf War. A close friend of our family is a Vietnam War Vet, and my father-in-law is a Korean War Vet. I have a friend in the army who just came home from Afghanistan.

I live in the Bible Belt. I don’t eat pork. I don’t eat shellfish. I follow Kosher laws (which are similar but not the same as Halal laws) out of respect for my husband. I read the news daily. I follow the goings-on in the Middle East. I follow the politics of our government. I follow the Israeli news sites, I read Arabic news sites. I have 10 religious apps on my phone, one of which is a Jewish Holidays app, another is a collection of the 40 Qudsi Hadith, and yet another is a Bible Study Toolbox.

Does this prove anything? I don’t know. Maybe not. I’m sure some people think it’s blasphemous that my Bible Study Toolbox app (which includes the Old and New Testaments) is right next to my Islamic Hub app. But you know, I can’t expect God to answer my prayers and enlighten me without putting my own effort into it. So yeah, I surround myself with people who have different views than my own. People who are Republicans, people who are Democrats, Independents, Communists, Libertarians, Muslims, Jews, Christians, Buddhists, Atheists, Wiccans, Pagans, and other assorted varieties.

My “bubble” may not be perfect. It may include Shabbat candles and Kiddush cups. But it also includes a Qur’an, a King James Bible, and a Tanakh. It even includes the Periodic Table of Elements. And a little bit of Netflix.

People assume that because my husband is Jewish he has managed to brainwash me. Pfft. Anyone who knows us can tell you there’s no “Jewish bubble.” Our family is one that thrives on debate and arguments and disagreements. That moment when you’ve been arguing for half and hour, and finally decide to look it up and prove them wrong! Only to find out you were actually the one who was wrong. Or you both were wrong. Or the occasional event in which you win the argument. It’s about learning, expanding your knowledge, and focusing on what the truth is, instead of being ignorant. The only way to learn is to surround yourself by things you know nothing about. To set aside your fear of whatever it is that keeps you from questioning anything. To realize that what comes out of a person’s mouth is said by man. It is not scripture. It is not infallible. Just because someone said so, doesn’t make it true.

If I’m in a bubble of any sort, it’s an American bubble. A bubble that doesn’t discriminate or discredit another person’s beliefs simply because I disagree. The amazing thing about American media is that they don’t censor outside news. I can find news from other countries just as easily as I can read CNN. Hell, we send our journalists overseas to get the inside scoop on what’s going on. It’s not America who’s beheading them, keeping them from bringing back their reports. Sometimes no amount of evidence will convince people that you’re really not out to get them. And that’s fine. But just because you’re afraid of the world, don’t assume that I’m brainwashed, uneducated, or isolated.

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