Ramadan Reflections: Day Two — Y U Mad?
I approach most things in life with the enthusiasm of someone who just discovered she won a radio contest. I am exuberant. I give a lot of high fives. I use too many emojis. As with most radio contests though, there are strings attached. Lately, there have been external forces in the current state of the world that have made it challenging to constantly live in cheer.
People can be mean.
Luckily, on the second day of Ramadan my true love gave to me — wisdom and guidance as usual because he is much smarter than I am. Though I am infinitely thankful for the support and kindness I received from the first Ramadan Reflection, I let things that were less-than-kind get to me, and the fear of receiving an outpour of negative feedback sent me into frustration.
A list of things spiraled through my mind:
-What happens when I encounter hate speech?
-Do I report it?
-Do I start blocking people on Facebook?
-What have I done?
-This isn’t fair.
-Why do people think the Internet is a blank check to send hate into the world?
In the midst of verbalizing my overthinking, I hear:
“Why are you getting angry?”
My husband, with the exception of while he is driving, is the most patient person I have ever encountered. His tolerance and general calmness at all times are two of the things I admire most about him. Even when he asks why I am angry, it is not accusatory. His voice reverberates like Mr. Miyagi’s; it is equally firm and gentle.
He maintains that I should not be upset, and also that I cannot logistically block every person who is unkind on the Internet (I want to interrupt and exclaim, “I can try!”), but that I should not want to block anyone, either. He tells me that none of this would accomplish anything. He reminds me that my goal is to offer a genuine perspective of Islam through writing, and by blocking hate, I would be taking that away from some of the people who may need to read it most.
As usual, he was right. Ramadan is about staying away from bad habits, such as gossiping, lying, and becoming angry with people, among others. I absorbed negativity and let it take me to a place that wasn’t healthy, a place that Ramadan specifically works to steer people away from, and this will serve as a reminder to me all month.
Afterward, we watched the commencement speech comedian Kumail Nanjiani delivered at his alma mater, Grinnel College. It’s an excellent speech filled with lessons on having compassion for others. At one point, Kumail discusses the importance of filling our lives with people who have different opinions. He explains, “Don’t disregard opposing viewpoints. Listen to them, absorb them, oppose them if you feel they are wrong, but allow them to affect you. Understand the pain behind an opinion such as, ‘Our jobs are being stolen’ and try to empathize with it. Believe me, it is not easy. I wish it was as easy as following a couple of opposing viewpoints on Twitter, and unblocking Uncle Steve from Facebook.”
Somehow, life has a way of sending you what you need when you need it.
Kumail continues, “We cannot expect others to understand our point of view if we don’t understand theirs. And it’s uncomfortable and awkward and infuriating and it hurts your brain, but with that pain can come growth and real change.”
My brain hurt today. I have trouble wrapping my mind around hate. With that, I still have to do a better job of understanding the frustrations that could be behind it, even if I do not agree with it.
Being more patient and taking the time to understand the pain behind hate are two of my goals this Ramadan. The hate in the world also makes me that much more thankful for the people who take time to spread kindness every single day. I know it is not easy.
So, to the people who have been kind: there truly is love and gratitude behind the heart and smiley face emojis I send your way. And to the people who have been less-than-kind: the same is also true. ❤ :)