Conquering Knowledge and Courage

What is the Muslim World? Is it a geographical place? A past empire? A Population? Where do they live?

It hardly seems like a religion, for a religion is not a world separate from the planet. I think about my childhood and the identity my family gave to me. I remember attending Q&A panels and watching my mother and other Muslim Americans speak and answer misconceptions about Islam. They were ambassadors from this Muslim World, aliens with their hands in the air claiming “I come in peace.” The face of a foreign group, yet among their own people. It is a singular world we live in. Coexistence is not a new, hippie, progressive concept with neat bumper stickers and political motives, but it is the most primitive unspoken law of the human verve.

Within these imaginary “worlds” we create to group ourselves and form an unspoken alliance with like minded thinkers subsists all the diversity in the universe. Within our factions and fragments, our families and friends, our own flesh and self proclaimed brethren, we differ instinctively. Our most similar counterparts are often camped across the universe in another “world”, believing we’re fated enemies.

I’m finding recurring themes through random conversations: strive and strife, the will, faith and ability to fight for what you want need. Maybe it is merely a survival instinct.

I met a girl from Nairobi. We talked about education, infrastructure, family, addictions and dependance. Within one family, you may have those which sacrifice to get an education. They’re driven by discipline. In the third world, education is available, but it is something which people sacrifice for. It is not compulsory, it is not easy. They wake up early, the walk alone to school, the forgo activities with their friends to study, they don’t have the technological resources to aide them when they struggle. People who choose to go through this are few and far between, but this is all for the chance to get ahead in life. Within the same family, you may have dozens of uneducated, unmotivated people who accept their plight and view it as just the benchmark for their society.

What’s the difference between him and me? To accept the status quo wherever you are, no matter the standard of living should reap the same fruit, but it doesn’t. Being educated at the compulsory level for your society does not prove your mental toughness. Rather, the thirst for knowledge and the hunger for something better, anything better, unites people by their common primal instinct to survive. Knowledge is survival.

I met a girl from the USA. She described her family to me as an upper class white suburban couple. There seems to be a distinct disconnect between her and her doctor/lawyer mother and father. They don’t speak, as her father is unapproving of her bi-racial relationship. Shut off entirely from her family, he makes an effort to announce his intentions to an austere racist. He’s met with nothing in return, no conversation, no reply to emails. She’s married without her parents involvement, approval, or knowledge. Facing a girls father is terrifying on principal, yet when you know you want something in your life, its just another obstacle. A focused person can conquer his fears when he has faith that it’s worth it. Faith in something better.

The world is full of drive; it comes from all places. Who is driven? Can anyone be driven by equally strong feelings of conviction? Or are some of us simply not equipped to overcome our circumstances and our fears?

In a round-about way, I’m trying to capture the idea of self representation. Whether you’re answering questions and trying to bridge the cultural gap between you and your neighbors, walking to school alone, or defending your identity to be with someone you love- what motivates your actions? They are merely a representation of your convictions, your inner self. These compulsions exist across cultures, religions, races, and geographic boundaries.

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Music: Citizen Cope; Carlos Santana; Tycho

Television: New Girl; Big Mommas House

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