Into the World

observation car

How far have you set out into the world? How far have you gone into the lives of others?

I’ve traveled only within my nation’s borders so far, but I’ve met, crossed paths with, drank coffee and tea with, laughed with, sat with, cried with many, many people of all types from all places in this dreamy, lovely world that deserves so much more stability than we, as a human race, sometimes offer to it.

I’ve chanted and breathed in Zen Centers and in Hindu Temples. I’ve prayed within Synagogues, Christian churches and Mosques. I’ve walked city streets with Hare Krishnas and danced along at PowWows. I’ve learned Kundalini meditation and awakening from a Guruji, and shamanic spiritual healing from medicine men and women. I’ve originated from a diverse family, was raised Catholic, am now a practicing Muslim who still believes in the Buddhist saying “religions are fingers of the same hand, all pointing to the same moon.” I support interfaith and intercultural efforts, I support same sex marriage and stopping bullying. I support what encourages coexistence between each of us beautiful people.

What is my wish?

To see more of everywhere and everyone, and do whatever tiny or larger thing I can to share the sense of connectedness with others. Also to listen to what everyone else has to say, to hear about others’ experiences, to understand the stories everyone of us has to share.

So many people, all moving around this world. Walking, driving, riding in airplanes and trains, riding bicycles. You’re among everyone, you’re a part of it all, element of the whole. Wherever you go, whether far or close, ask yourself one question–how will you see the world, the people of it? Will you see the mystery and beauty of it all, all of that magic that deserves to be protected and respected? Will you be willing to keep, and make, the peace?

What is your wish?

There are two simple instructions to creating a good life for yourself and those you share the world with:

1) Make your wish

2) Walk out into the world with a plan and every intention to make that wish come into being. 🌸

Pointing to the Same Moon

 

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Something I learned the first time I walked into a Zen Center in my city fifteen years ago: meditation techniques may be central to Buddhism, but those who practice and teach its techniques don’t ask that you officially call yourself Buddhist to join in. You can, but you can also be Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Jewish, a theist, deist, an atheist, agnostic, a witch, a clown, have a fancy for hobbits, elves, unicorns, and dragons, or do Parkour or be a hardcore surfer or rock and mineral collector. It really doesn’t matter who you are or what you believe, disbelieve, or spend your time doing; meditation is an exercise of mind and body designed to bring peace into the lives of all.

“Religions are the fingers of one hand pointing to the same moon.” This is how Nonin Chowaney, Abbot of the Nebraska Zen Center Heartland Temple, explained the Buddhist perspective on religious practices as I stood among a small group of people—some Buddhists, others not—in the sunlit kitchen of the center after an hour of the morning spent in sitting and walking meditation. Drinking the tea offered and looking from face to disparate face, I considered how nice it would be if everyone could so easily see the simple relationship that exists between all of us as we find ourselves facets of this world.

Whatever you practice, we have only one source from which we were derived from and which we will, however that works, slip back into. A single source that creates and receives our energies and, being from the same source whatever that may be, we are all unified to each other in the very simple way of existing together in this reality, on this planet, as members of the same intellectual and emotional species. Together.

My mom and aunts went out to look at arts and crafts one weekend when they came across a small statue of a Buddhist monk in meditation, legs crossed in Lotus position, palms in the upward mudra position that allows for the free flow of energy through the body—the give and take of positive energy during meditation. My aunt commented that it looked like something I would appreciate, and so the little monk was brought to me as an unexpected gift. For me, having a family that understands and accepts diversity adds to my passion to help others find our connections more readily despite how different we seem in look, behavior, or belief. Coming from a predominantly Catholic family, having been baptized and raised in Christianity, and now fitting comfortably into the Muslim faith, no one in my circle of loved ones fears, judges, or denigrates the journey I’ve been on and where I’ve settled in. And no one worries about why a Buddhist monk statue sits on our balcony.

Sitting with the little, peaceful monk on warm early mornings to catch the remainder quiet before peoples’ daily routines make their ways into the neighborhood, his contemplation undisturbed by the world around him, I think of the many ways we pray or otherwise think spiritually; the natural flow of methods within us as naturally embedded as melody is within the bird’s psyche. A look to the sky, and I see the big sun blinking down, knowing that between sun and earth is the one, single moon that centers itself in our nighttime vision of the sky.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

May I Blog A Little Peace Into Your Day?

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I ask because I’ve found not everyone is willing, or maybe just not ready, to accept a peaceful message or gesture, a kind word, a token of love. Would you accept? My hope is that if you are reading, you’re feeling enthusiastic about the idea, maybe even saying to yourself, Well, of course you may! Who wouldn’t want a little of that? This I hope, as I curl up in the safe, diverse, friendly space of the blog universe, a place where I haven’t yet encountered a hostile comment placed on me or others. Where I can sit with my cup of warm tea in my comfortable home and feel shielded from the negative energies drifting–or even howling furiously along–outside.

Whew! It sure does feel good to step into a comfortable space and be surrounded by a respite of cheerful, positive thoughts.

The past few weeks have been an experiment and a lesson for me. I’ve been disheartened, surprised, confused, and left wondering What should I do next? What should anybody do next? I’ve discovered that while in the minority, there are a number of people in the world who have curiously hurtful thoughts against others and little reservation in using words to make them known. I’ve also learned that if you want to dedicate yourself to being among the voices to speak up for unity and social awareness, you would be better off joining a speakers bureau, organizing a community event, or writing a book. Discussions on news and public figure websites are not really the place to initiate adequate change.

So I’ve decided that after my much needed refuge in the kind little corner of the blogosphere I’ve been fortunate to find, I will continue to take my own advice and focus on more productive places to put healing intentions and energies. I will also do my best to Keep Calm and Laugh It Off, as my husband encourages me to do. Below is a brief exchange in one conversation regarding current events. It’s one I could at least muster up a humorous feeling for, and, I believe, a fine example of how not to effectively communicate each other. If anything, I hope I can be an inspiration, a reminder that time and words are precious, and that while sometimes it’s worth a try to speak up, other times it turns out to be waste of precious energy.

What we should do next is simply relax, take in a breath of the beautiful day, and offer a friendly word or two to all those we cross paths with.

And the comment that started it was:

James, you don’t have to accept Islam, you just need accept your fellow humans who are doing nothing to harm anyone. That’s the greatest thing we can all do for this world. Don’t feel sorry for me, no reason to. I sleep at night in good conscience and with happiness because I know I’ve done as much as possible each day to be respectful and kind in this world. I wish you and everyone the best regardless of your opinion of me. What you think of me isn’t important, it’s not about me, it’s about being as good as we possibly can in an existence that flies by in the blink of an eye. Why waste the time contributing to negative energy, supporting the idea that there is an entire group of people who are all evil and want to harm the world and should be treated as inhuman? Isn’t that what led to the Holocaust and the genocide of Native Americans? Words have power, be careful how you structure them into an idea.

Followed by one supportive remark, from Dalia, whoever she may be. Although her comments received no likes, it was appreciated, at least by me.

You go girl ♡

Followed up by:

sorry but the way I see it, Stephanie == Head in Sand, Rainbows and Unicorns sprouting from anus. Islam needs to be outlawed like it is in China.

about an hour ago · Like · 4

As you can see, he received 4 likes. Not too bad. And this was followed up with a comment from Graham:

whoah … what and what comin outa where? that’d be a sight indeed … lol

I liked this one. It was innocent enough, and I appreciate humor. Next, I tried my best with what I thought to be an effort at peacekeeping, but perhaps it was too sarcastic. No likes received for:

Rainbows and Unicorns? Head in the sand? Call it what you like, but I grew up in a very diverse family and have seen the beauty of coexistence and dedicate my time to supporting this idea.

And the concluding remark:

The concluding remark by, posted by someone I imagine to be an angry-looking man with and serpents for hair and a gaze that could turn me to stone in a matter of seconds, involved the word “kill,” so I thought it best to leave it at walking away perplexed by the amount of bullying that we, as adults, are capable of.

If I, or anyone, were to judge ourselves by numbers of likes on a social networking site, on insults directed at us by others attacking safely from the security of their unknown locations on the other side of a computer screen, or by other peoples’ drives to bully, we would lose the strength to stand up for ourselves and others; we might start to believe the lie.  It can get vicious out there. So keep calm, and don’t forget to laugh. Even when it doesn’t help it certainly doesn’t hurt.

Science and Religion by Starlight and Streetlight

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Science doesn’t hate religion, just as religion doesn’t hate science. This I am confident in stating.

The sharp, irreconcilable contrast between science and religion are only as sharp and irreconcilable as we believe them to be. These two schools of thought, which we sometimes spend inordinate amounts of time and energy separating from each other, are nothing more than two natural facets of human intellect derived to bring sense, order, and purpose to existence, and they complement each other harmoniously–just as the steel and glass and concrete of our cities can blend with natural horizon and hues to enhance the beauty laced throughout an environment.

I love science but dislike how we sometimes use it with hostility, looking for every possible way that a theory or formula or function related to our material existence may disprove the reality of creation–creation as defined as a function of a thinking entity, an intelligent designer, such as God. I love religion and spirituality, but can also say I dislike when we use religious, spiritual, God-related thought to discredit scientific thought. Why do we place so much precious energy into fighting over concepts we can often neither prove nor disprove; information that stays happily dancing in the outer layers of logic and reality beyond our intellectual reach? We’ve got to admit it at some point–we just aren’t sure what in the world the world is, where it came from, where we and all other interesting creatures came from, where exactly all of our thoughts and ideas originate, what a thought is, why coffee is so divine or why bell bottoms never really go out of style. Instead of depleting our energies over trivialities, what about a more compassionate, concerted effort between us to simply drop our defenses and stop protecting the sense of superiority our personal biases and beliefs confine us to, so that we instead can enjoy and investigate the brilliant mystery of existence together? It’s just a thought, it’s just a slightly frustrated statement I feel compelled to make after reading article after article from each side of the great debate, finding few that honor the fundamental crux of the mystery–that it is, in great measure, mystery and allows for varied, imaginative, free-flowing thought and theory.

The world outside this middle of the night, this almost 2AM in summertime, is wonderful. Loosely flowing clouds, stars framed with poignant light, low rumble from a military plane drifting toward the nearby base, smell of the earlier evening’s rain still infused in soil, grass, and voluminous tree leaves. I sit on a balcony created through the art of architecture, shaped and nailed into place by human workers. I drink a warm mug (man made) of hot chocolate with ingredients made in part from cocoa beans that once grew from the earth. I see both airplanes and stars in the sky, the quiet neighborhood is lit with both streetlights and celestial light. It’s too beautiful a night to skip sitting outside and feeling the undeniable magnitude of beauty the senses were designed to pick up, the mind was designed to interpret, and something somewhat unexplainable within us is able to connect with, finding love and purpose there. I, like everyone else, am both intellectual machine and emotional being; the basic dual-purpose human design.

As a long-term student and practitioner of psychology, I am familiar with neuroscience, anatomy, and chemical theories of behavior. As a lifelong seeker and practitioner of the spiritual elements of existence, I also know of neuroscience, anatomy, and chemical theories of behavior–the ways these affect and are affected by spiritual thoughts and actions–as well as intuition, emotional energy, and faith. What I personally have found, what I have concluded in my own way, of my own accord and path, unaffected by and not wishing to affect the paths of others, is that both sets of traits assigned to these two different schools of thought exist merged at points, blended in ways, inseparable in certain concepts. The more I study science, the more I understand creation. The more I consider creation the more easily I see it in the methodic, formulaic arrangement of earth, solar system, universe, each earthly terrain or plant or bird, and each further placed planet or galaxy. When Rene Dubos, microbiologist, experimental pathologist, environmentalist, and humanitarian, said that “each human being is unique, unprecedented, unrepeatable,” I believe it is a statement that belies intelligent design. And in the Dalai Lama’s statement, “What we do and think in our own lives, then, becomes of extreme importance as it effects everything we’re connected to,” is the reminder that we live in an interconnected, systematic world that scientific thought can help us understand.

As a usually peaceful kind of person—I admit to having my moments—I find the greater mystery of living is why we fight with such diligence to show each other how wrong it is to believe certain things, bringing significant ways of thought such as science and religion into the fight to apply as weapons instead of unifying forces of humanity. We were brought into this world without any say, and here we are, moving right along with the universe–all we really need do is enjoy and honor the fact that we are here, witnessing existence and being given a vast amount of information to explore. How each of us understands our being here is personal and should be safe from the judgments of others.

What an unusual fact it is to have wound up in this complex world of mystery upon mystery, beauty after beauty, and how any of this truly came to be is still not information we are privy to.

On perfect nights that expose the artistry of existence, including the way nature and technology coexist in incredibly harmonious fashion, it seems so crystally, star-lighty, refreshingly clear that understanding the mystery should be included among things best not to bicker about. Grab a drink, warm or cold, and a friend to talk with under the sky instead.

*******
My religion consists of a humble admiration of the illimitable superior spirit
who reveals himself in the slight details we are able to perceive
with our frail and feeble minds.
That deeply emotional conviction of the presence
of a superior reasoning power, which is revealed in the incomprehensible Universe,
forms my idea of God.

–Albert Einstein
*******

*What if we asked each other more instead, and then listened, closely, to the answers?
*In what small ways will you share more with others and let others share with you in order to understand more?

science-v-religion

Holidays are for Happy

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It can be difficult to mix and match cultural, religious, and personal preferences during this December time of year when holiday traditions abound, especially in this Western part of the world where the majority of people with religious beliefs follow the Jewish and Christian belief systems. For those who are not religious, the secular society is also very attached to the Christmas season for its ideas of peace, magic, generosity, and family. Who can argue that a sense of magic and an unusual beauty exist this time of year, especially amidst all of the holiday lights strung over homes and throughout the public areas of cities, lighting our world in a way that just doesn’t happen other times of the year?

Certainly there are some who remain unmoved by the aesthetic qualities of the Christmas season, and others who could argue that reindeer, Santa Claus, penguin, snow globe, candy cane, and elf lawn decorations are unusually annoying, but that is their right and they can decide not to love holiday living as they wish. We all have our reasons for either loving, hating, or remaining indifferent to the holidays.

It can be an especially sensitive time of year, especially given the confusion over what to actually say to people this time of year; with more acceptance and sensitivity in society toward religious and cultural differences–which is a very good thing–it can be easy to get tripped up in deciding if “Have a Merry Christmas” (a definite Western tradition) is okay to say when thanking a cashier or postal carrier or chatting with a coworker, neighbor, or anyone really, or if they might fall more into the “Happy Hannukah,” “Happy Kwanzaa,” “Happy Yule,” or the non-religious or even non-holiday categories. We don’t want to inflict any offense on others and risk feeling rude and ignorant, or risk an evil eye in response that takes away a little of our own holiday cheer. So, very often, “Have a happy holiday!” suffices if we choose anything at all. It’s safe call.

The key words to the holiday greetings are happy and merry and peaceful. Whatever your beliefs or traditions are, whether you are a holiday practitioner or spend the day (and the season, roughly most of December) as any other, the wishes are for you to be happy, be merry, have peace. Go out of this year with a positive sense of life, and go into the upcoming year with that same positive sense.

This year marks the first Christmas/holiday/merry-peaceful season I am sharing with my family and my husband. We married in late January of this year, well after the menorahs, midnight Masses in Catholic churches, hymnals about the birth of Jesus Christ, yule logs, reindeer, Santa, wrapping paper, and cups full with eggnog had come and gone. Although I haven’t celebrated Christmas from a Christian perspective for many, many years (a perspective I still highly respect), my husband has never celebrated Christmas from this or any perspective. He hails from the Holy Lands–Jerusalem his place of birth–and so also has a compassionate respect for not only his faith of origin, Islam, but other faiths as well, especially the two other monotheistic religions of the Western world, Christianity and Judaism. He also knows of Papa Noel–the name for Santa Claus in the the Arabic culture–but not so much of the Grinch or of “going buckwild” (one of his favorite expressions) with the gift tradition.

He seemed a little nervous at first, and I felt a little nervous as well in not wanting him to be nervous. I didn’t want it to seem like I was trying to convert him into any buckwild holiday traditions that have been a consistent part of my life. I love gift-giving, and Christmas lights, and the religious Christmas music that has resonated with me emotionally since I was a child, and the otherworldliness of an evergreen tree (real or artificial) all lit up within your living area. I love the decorations overtaking homes and shopping centers and whole cities, and the holiday packaging on foods and drinks. I never asked him to get into it, I only asked that he wouldn’t mind a tree in the living room, some stockings on the wall for my daughter and the gerbil, and my personal favorite of finding gifts for the children of the family and my parents.

Thankfully, the holidays have that type of peacefulness and magic about them that make it easy for most people to adapt to. Not only has it been fun for him, but he even got a little buckwild with the idea of gift-giving and so I’ve wound up with (already, since he’s not so much accustomed with waiting until the morning of the 25th) a holiday/Christmas/merry-peaceful/loving gift or two straight from him. And he seemed secretly thrilled that I had one for him. After all, it’s never about materialism or what a gift is, it’s about, simply, having fun with each other.

The holiday season begs us to have fun, happiness, peace, and love with each other, and you really can’t go wrong with that. When the season is difficult and hurtful because you’ve lost someone, or lost a relationship, or in general are feeling lonely or out of sorts or even disagreeable with so-called holiday cheer, it’s quite alright to avoid making a big deal of the season, but if you really want to there are many people willing to open their hearts, homes, and arms to others to ensure the true “reason for the season” is passed along to others as it should be.

Nothing has to be made too difficult in life, especially those things that are meant to convey a sense of happiness, merriness, peace, and all around positivity. Holidays are for being happy, something everyone deserves.

*Picture courtesy of California Indian Education. http://www.californiaindianeducation.org/community/christmas/2010/PeaceOnEarth.gif

Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, Too?

Racism is a virus that is growing clever at avoiding detection. Race consciousness is real. Racial assumptions and prejudices are real. And racism is real. But these realities can operate without articulation and beneath awareness. For those reasons, some can see racism where it is absent, and others can willfully ignore any possibility that it could ever be present.–Charles M. Blow, NY Times columnist (I would add that this quote fits any form of prejudice, not only racism.)

We are many parts, we are all one body.–Verse from a Catholic Hymn

Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner is a 1967 movie about a family in which the daughter of an upper-class white family brings home her fiance, a black physician, in a time when interracial marriage was still illegal in various states, and the family’s struggles to accept the relationship. The cinematic family has been conditioned, through the racist and segregated society of the times, to not accept the daughter’s love as an equal whom they would love to invite into their family, willingly taking him into their homes and hearts, let him sit in equality around the same table. The movie stars Sidney Poitier and Katharine Hepburn, and is worth the little over an hour-and-a-half it takes to watch.

Now we step into these days of the 2000s, where we have come so far. So far in breaking down the myths and hatred of prejudice that have over time allowed us to build up heavy walls around each other, with the notion that these walls are safety measures, their job to keep us safe from those different others. In reality, every prejudice we have against a group of “others” is a metaphorical apartheid wall that harms both “us” and “them” with its segregation as much as any true, physical, concrete wall built between groups of people.

We have come so far, but still need to keep going. A recent Cheerios commercial evidenced this when it received criticism–including hateful remarks in the realms of racism–simply because it featured a biracial couple enjoying their morning together; a black father, white mother, and their biracial daughter. In New York, nine recent victims of a particularly hideous crime against humanity which the perpetrators are calling a “game,” specifically the Knockout Game, have been Jewish. Although people of various races and cultures have been victims of this assault in cities throughout the United States, there is concern that the number of Jewish victims in New York is based in anti-Semitism. It may not be, but there is still anti-Semitism in the world, just as there is anti-white, anti-black, anti-anyone-anywhere.

It is a stubborn facet of the human condition wherever you go: we are still in need of protecting each other’s human rights fully, continuously, and with genuine compassion.

This is not a rant, just a nudge. This is not a judgment, just a request to look into yourself and see clearly how you relate to others, where your strengths and weaknesses are, where you are helping and where you might be hurting others. We all need nudges and times to reflect on our our actions.

And now for the post-9/11 world’s version of Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner: my family has always been fine with the husband who now attends dinner with me, so there’s no issue there. I feel fortunate to be from a family with much cultural diversity, with “intermarriages” between this or that racial/ethnic background; it seems to make it easier for myself and for those in my family, and for others in similar families, to see compatibility among diverse people as nothing more than the usual nature of people, not as a cause for concern, fear, or hatred. Not as something out of place or strange. It’s difficult for me to comprehend how we can’t all see things this way, and I have at times been tempted to think that maybe some people are just “seeing racism where it doesn’t exist” too much–which can be tempting to think when you have never had prejudice directed at you, never felt the discomfort of being singled out simply for your genetic or cultural origins. But I have now had a lesson in prejudice on a personal basis, and see how it is alive and well in modern days. It has been a good lesson, eye-opening and inspiring, prompting me to continue reaching out to others by joining in with peacebuilding and coexistence efforts as much as possible.

I had never had the experience before of being harassed in a prejudiced way at any point in my life. Not for being white (which is mostly my heritage background and my coloring, I am a pale and green-eyed 3/4 German, Irish, Polish woman who is also 1/4 Mexican), not for being Polish or Irish or German or Mexican, not for being Russian (which I’m not at all but, for some reason, people have often guessed that I am), not for being Catholic or Midwestern, not because my family lacked financial wealth and luxury cars and not because my family was financially stable enough to send three children to private school, own two cars, and own a house. Nothing. Prejudice was not an experience I knew other than through compassionate instincts when hearing about or seeing it affecting others.

The post-9/11 Western world. Many people in the West were interested in learning about the differences between themselves and the stated Muslim fundamentalist enemies. They wanted to know who the Muslims are and who the Arabs are in order to differentiate between the “regular” people–regular here as all those people who live like anyone else in the majority–and the terrorists. John L. Esposito, a Georgetown University professor of Religion, International Affairs, and Islamic Studies, and an Italian-American Catholic, says it well in his book Who Speaks for Islam? when he explains that Islamic fundamentalists make up merely a “fraction of a fraction” of Muslims. Consider that there are about 1 billion Muslims on this earth; consider, if Islam were the problem, or Arab Muslims, how much more pronounced the problem would be. Consider how the majority, the great and vast majority of all Muslims, including Arab Muslims, are just living the way anyone else is: waking in the morning, showering, having a breakfast, going to work, going to school, taking care of their families, watching movies, running, laughing, buying groceries, planting gardens, sleeping and dreaming and figuring out the best ways to spend their time in this life. Nothing more.

Media does strange things, however, and when you combine lack of awareness with negative and unbalanced media stories, it’s a perfect mix for increasing fears which increases prejudice and hate and, at worst, hateful actions.

Some quotes from my experience, and although maybe it shouldn’t, it amazes me that these are true quotes: Your husband is Muslim, and Arab? So, he’s in Al Qaeda? You converted to Islam? Your husband either threatened to beat you or leave you if you didn’t, right? (It wouldn’t matter had I converted before or after meeting him, but it was before, and my decision alone.) Don’t go overseas with your husband, they like to marry American women to take back to the Middle East and sell into sex slavery. Don’t go to your husband’s homeland, they won’t like you because you’re American and they’ll probably end up stoning you to death, or kidnapping you. When wearing the hijab–the Muslim headscarf–in public, I’ve heard shouts of raghead, sandnigger, terrorist, Go back to your own country! (Already here, that was a short trip!), and once, while shopping at Kohl’s, a fellow shopper walking somewhere behind me remarked loudly to her companion, “I didn’t know they let terrorists shop here.” Which I felt was a good time to turn around, appearing frightened, and exclaim, “Oh my God, me neither!”

These experiences are in the minority for me; like the percentage of Muslim terrorists, they are a fraction of a fraction of others’ reactions to Muslims, to me, to my husband, and to the love my husband and I have between each other as American Westerner and Arab Middle Easterner. Most people who have heard my husband is from the lands of Palestine/Israel are interested in knowing more about his homeland. Most people who have been compelled to comment on my hijab have done so to ask questions about it or compliment it. Some have gotten large, welcoming smiles upon seeing me approach and have even held doors open for me, possibly for the image of holiness one might say the headscarf can create–I have been asked a few times if I happen to be a nun.

Most people on this earth are eager to be kind and act in goodness toward others, I believe this fully. And for those who aren’t and don’t, I am sure there are a number of reasons to the psychology of why they act in the negative ways they do. Prejudice is always fear-based, always starting in a fear we have for how the differences of others might affect us. Taking the initiative to meet with others so that you can understand them more as people just like yourself is among the easiest ways to start building more peace among everyone.

The comments I have received are from people I am not willing to judge. While their choices of action aren’t healthy or helpful in keeping the world a peaceful, accepting place where all can thrive knowing their universal rights to life are protected, they are likely perfectly respectable human beings who simply need to improve their awareness of others to decrease any fears they have of any type of person. The hurtful, harassing, fearful reactions have also inspired me to look at how I treat others, testing whether or not I am living up to my standard of making the world a better place through kindness and acceptance, My promise to myself and the world I share with everyone else: I will always strive to live up to this standard, because every tiny fragment of kindness adds to the great, big whole of positive healing energy in this world.

*Who is going to sit with you for dinner, or who will you sit with? Hopefully, the only thing that will affect this decision is the fact the person is good and kind and you can bring meaning into each others’ lives.

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Meanwhile, in other parts of the animal kingdom, it seems hamsters are next in line for risk of stereotyping:

terrorist hamster