Educate Yourself On Islam To End The Persecution

Educate Yourself On Islam To End The Persecution

Let peace begin.
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Well all have seen it in the media. The awful and horrid pictures of terrorist attacks that have happened all over the world. From the 9/11 attacks to the most recent attacks in Europe. These attacks show us what our world is made of; hate and violence. But, there is something even more striking about all of the attacks we hear about. The only time we EVER hear religion mentioned, is when it's an attack done by someone practicing a form of the Islamic faith.

I say a form of the Islamic faith. I do not, in any way, believe that Muslims believe in a religion that promotes violence and murder, because what they believe is the exact opposite. While I am not a Muslim, I have studied Islam in an academic sense. I am a Religious Studies major, which means I academically study all religions. And one of the classes I am currently taking, Religion and Popular Culture, has brought a horrific truth to my attention. A truth that I want to address now.

Our culture, both in the United States and outside of it, sees Islam as a terror religion. There is no way to get around it, Islam has been seen throughout all of history as a terror religion. As Sophia Roase Arjana points out in her article "Monstrous Muslims", Medieval representations of Muslims were largely seen in creatures such as the cynocephalus (dog-headed man), Saracen giant (cannibalistic) and Black Saracen (a demonic killer of Christian saints). Or in which she points directly to America's history with Islam in saying, The United States of America has never had a friendly relationship with Islam; in fact, the earliest references to Muslims express concepts to barbarianism, violence, and criminality.

As I read this article in Religion and Popular Culture, in which my professor handed out this article, I wasn't shocked with the title. I've taken basic world religion courses in which you discover that at the heart of Islamic teachings is one of love. Muslims call Jesus a prophet. They study his teachings too. You see, Christianity, Judaism, and Islam all have something in common. And you may not see this one coming.

The Three Abrahamic Faiths. Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. They all three claim to be descendants of Abraham. You know Abraham. The guy who founded Judaism, the guy who did not sacrifice the son of Sarah after sending the son of Hagar away. All three come from Abraham, and Abraham only had one God.

I tell you all of this, because I want to ask you a question. Why in the world do we enunciate and scream from the rooftops when some guy who happens to be a Muslim and call the god of Abraham Allah, (which by the way, is the Arabic word for God), and commits an act of terrorism, but we say nothing when a Christian does the same?

In the United States, 94% of terrorist attacks from 1980-2005 were done by people NOT of the Islamic faith. If you ask people in America, most people would call a Muslim and a terrorist the same thing. Well, okay, at least Donald Trump will.

In Europe, you know how many of those terrorist attacks were committed by Muslims? Less than 2%. Over a thousand terror attacks in Europe in the last five years, and less than 2% of them are committed by Muslims. Interesting.

I ask you this, why? Why do we have this nasty and negative image of Islam? What the heck did they ever do to any of us to start all of this crap? I'm sorry, but when Hitler persecuted all of the Jewish people no one mentioned the fact that he was a.....CHRISTIAN! Or when Yugoslavia went into turmoil the two groups that were fighting against each other, the Serbs and the Croatians, were Christians while the Bosniks, who were trying to keep the peace, were Muslims. (Thanks Dr. Forbes for that little peace of information.) The Oklahoma City bomber? Yeah, he was a Christian too. Yet we have this ideal image of the Christian faith. And let us not forget the Crusades, in which the Pope, in fact it was Urban II, PREACHED the First Crusade. Is it just me, or is there a double standard there?

Fellow human beings, I ask of you this: Stop persecuting the Islamic faith. Get it out of your head that these people are monsters, because they are not. They are some of the most peaceful people. If you are going to define people and terror attacks by religions, show me the Christians that are doing it as well.

I also ask that you read Arjana's article for yourself. If you can't find it on Google, you can find it in Religion and Popular Culture in America: Third Edition, which will be available in the Spring.

So, stop the persecution. Let the persecution end, and the peace begin.

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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An Open Letter To The Meadville Medical Center And Its ER Staff

When did kindness become a deserved thing in the healthcare field; and only if you're not on drugs?
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Yes, that cover picture is me, coming off a ventilator...at Magee Women's Hospital in Pittsburgh, a two-hour drive from my house, not at Meadville Medical Center.

This is very difficult to write. We live in a small town, and you are the only hospital for over twenty miles. In fact, I live so close to you, that I can see your rooftop from my back garden. I can walk to you in about ten minutes if it’s not overly humid out. The Life Flights pass over my house as they arrive at and leave your facility, and my young daughter and I pray for every one of them.

My daughter had to call an ambulance on May 30th, as I had a sharp and horrible pain overtake me so suddenly, that I thought my neighbor (who I threatened to report for dealing drugs) had shot me through the dining room window at first. There was no blood to be seen, but the pain was so severe, that combined with the cold sweats and dizziness, I was genuinely afraid I was about to die.

I can’t express in words how proud I was of my girl as she explained to the 911 operator what was the matter and where we lived. She was brave and helpful as they took a blood sample, handled what I later learned was a seizure, and kindly got me into the ambulance from my difficult entryway. She called her Auntie and calmly told her to meet me at the ER. And while memories of the horrible experience I had in your ER twenty years ago still haunted me, the care and attention the ambulance drivers showed me encouraged me that I would be okay.

If only.

There were so many people, and I was half delirious with pain and inexplicable symptoms. Thank God my sister in law, Sheri, was there to help me fight for my life. For the sake of our small town and six degrees of separation, I will call them Nurse A, B, C, and D, and Doctor H. Your staff literally, unapologetically bullied me within an inch of my life.

When I arrived, it was apparently Nurse A who triumphantly announced to everyone involved in my care that I was on drugs, case closed. Despite Sheri and I repeatedly telling them that I hadn’t taken any narcotics, and I won’t take anything stronger than Motrin 800, they persisted in asking what I took. At one point I heard Sheri saying, “She does everything naturally, you're wasting time.” No one cared.

When Nurse A informed me that they needed a urine test, I told her to straight cath me, as I couldn’t stand up. It was Nurse A who told Doctor H that I faked two seizures on the way from my house (I am still amazed by her mystical powers that she could surmise this), and insisted again that I was faking everything. With utter disgust Doctor H said, “She can stand, get her up.” At Sheri’s protest, Nurse A reiterated, “If she can move her legs she can stand.” My legs, which were almost involuntarily moving to find relief from the pain in my abdomen, gave out on me when she insisted I put myself on the bedside commode. I passed out again and urinated on her.

When I woke up to Sheri frantically calling my name, I was greeted by an absolutely disgusted Nurse A, who complained that she needed to go change her clothes, and rolled her eyes at my faking another seizure. She informed everyone who came in next that I was faking these symptoms, and four attempts to straight cath me failed. In that moment, I was sure I was going to die.

Everything after that came in blurry and fragmented vignettes, like an awful out of body experience. There were Nurses B through D or more, all repeatedly asking me what drugs I took. Everyone scowled and frowned, passing on the information that I was faking everything. There were four of these nurses when I woke up on the way to a scan, and all but one asking me what drugs I took, and telling me to stop faking as I hysterically screamed that I could not breathe when I lay flat. I was terrified, confused, out of my mind, and unable to breathe when I lay flat, and they reported that “she hyperventilated herself” in the scan lab.

All the while, Sheri valiantly insisted they would find no drugs in the blood work, and that I probably hadn’t been to a family doctor in years. I lay in your ER cubicle and reconciled myself to God, convinced that I was going to die and be labeled a drug addict.

At some point, something shifted, and suddenly I received the blanket I had asked for hours before. Apparently, my temperature had dropped so low, their fancy thermometers couldn’t read anything. I remember a young man trying to find a vein and saying, “Oh my God, I’ve never seen anything like this. I’m not trying again.” My head was elevated, and the panic of not being able to breathe alleviated somewhat.

Suddenly Doctor H was almost kind, and I heard him telling Sheri something about “a mass” and “blood in her abdomen” and how some other hospital was better equipped to help me. She told me she okay-ed it, and I recall telling her, “I trust you. Just get me out of here.”

In fact, knowing someone else would care for me gave me such peace, that I literally lay completely still as an older man inserted an IV line into my neck with no anesthesia.

We assume the blood work came back and the scan verified what we desperately tried to tell everyone from the beginning; I wasn’t on or seeking drugs. But there was no apology from Nurse A, her fellow nurses, or Doctor H. I may be corrected, but I spent five or six hours in your ER defending myself to the same people who should have been fighting for my life.

As I lay there, talking to Yeshuale, three people in what looked like tactical suits came alongside my bed. The first was a woman who looked like she was speaking into a walkie talkie. Behind her two men. I thought to myself “Oh, state cops. I guess I’m just going to die in prison.” I was so out of it, confused and weary of being asked what drugs I took, I believed your ER staff had called the police and they had come to take me away. All I could think of was what would become of my young daughter.

Thank God, I was mistaken. The blonde woman wasn’t a police officer, but part of the helicopter team, on the phone with Magee in Pittsburgh so she could begin administering blood to me. Blood. Something your staff considered less important than accusing me of using and seeking some weird drugs. Behind her, a tall, blonde man smiled at me and explained that he was taking me in a helicopter and I would be fine. It was like hearing from an angel, and I remember saying, “Todah, Yeshuale!” repeatedly in my head and in a whisper. “Thank You, Jesus!”

Four blocks away, my daughter and the friend she was staying with waved as we flew over my house.

To my surprise, I woke up two days later, attached to a ventilator, one of my sister friends sitting beside my bed. I learned that I’d had two masses in my uterus, which tore itself open and bled into my abdomen. I’d lost four liters of blood and had a transfusion in the Life Flight. When they took the vent out, (my friend took the picture above) I made a joke about being a tough Jersey girl as I signed to the ICU nurse, but inside I was an emotional wreck. Still, as the days went on, I determined to treat everyone with kindness, and was treated the same way at every turn.

Kindness. The one thing I never received from your staff.

What was so special about me that your staff felt interrogating me about my apparent drug use was more important than helping me? My address? Because for some reason all the drug dealers in town seem to want to take over my block? So, we’re all on drugs, then? Do you realize that half my neighbors brag about going to your ER to get pain pills, and how easy it is? I never asked for anything but a Tylenol, and that was on the Life Flight. So, again I ask, what made me so unique?

And, I must say, it’s not even that your staff didn’t believe me. They were mean, hateful even. Rolling their eyes, talking about me like I wasn’t there, saying everything I did was a ruse to get drugs. When did it become okay to treat anyone like that? How was it alright for your nurse to walk in and determine that I was on drugs? How was it alright for her to set the tone of disbelief, unkindness, and abuse? How was it alright for the doctor to allow this and roll with it?

Yes, I said abuse. When someone is screaming that they can’t breathe and you tell them to stop faking, that is abuse. When you berate someone, and accuse them of something to the point where they believe they’re being taken to jail to die, that’s abuse. When you refuse to give someone a blanket, hold them down to the point where they’re bruised, that’s abuse. When you waste time to the point where an ambulance won’t get to the next hospital fast enough… that’s abuse. Your staff verbally, emotionally, and physically abused me.

Not only were they abusive, but they were comfortable with it. Your staff was comfortable with it, and didn’t care what it would cost me or my family. All but one nurse, who Sheri now tells me insisted that there was something wrong with me and took me for the scan. That nurse saved my life. People are comfortable with abuse because they get away with it. Abusers get smug, arrogant and even careless, because those they abuse say nothing. Your staff was smug, rude and uncaring to the point that they displayed a sick sort of disgust for me that was completely obvious. My sister in law later confirmed to me that it wasn’t all in my head.

At what point did this behavior become acceptable? Is it because you’re the only hospital for a 30-minute drive?

And, so what if I had been seeking drugs or high on some unknown concoction? Would that have made it okay for your staff to treat me thusly? Would Nurse A have been justified in declaring my altered state and treating me like garbage? Would Doctor H have been justified in how he treated me? When did nursing and healing give anyone that sort of power? When did people cease to be worthy of kindness, quality health care and gentleness based upon their drug use, or the address they live at?

When did you decide who deserves to be treated with dignity and respect and who does not? When did your medical staff earn that right to decide also?

If we’re completely honest, most of the people I know who abuse pills go to your ER at least once bimonthly to get refills. Your ER physicians pass out opioid scripts like candy and then mistreat the people they’re supplying? Thanks to you, I must hide the pain medication I loathe to take now, because someone will surely break in to my home and steal them if they know I have them. You, and other hospitals like you, are feeding addicts and creating innocent bystander victims like me, but that’s another conversation.

This is difficult to write, because you have your hooks in all over this town. This is difficult to write, because the trauma of that night is still fresh in my mind, and I often cry when I think about it. This is difficult to write, because the reality that I have had to now teach my child to ask any ambulance we ever need to call again to take us to Erie shouldn’t be necessary. This is difficult to write, but it needs to be said, especially since I’ve been finding out that I’m not the only person this has happened to.

You need to address these issues. You need to stop handing out scripts like promotional coupons, and perhaps you won’t have nurses and doctors assuming everyone’s on drugs or seeking them. You need to discourage the abusive and toxic behavior of your staff, and hold them accountable when patients complain. Let me put this into perspective for you: I’m pretty sure Nurse A is the same age as my oldest daughter, and my child would eat mud before she treated anyone like that. Why? Because my kids were never allowed to behave that way in the first place, but to stay on topic, she grew up with consequences, and as an adult still recognizes their severity.

As the events of that night become clearer to me, and I continue my peaceful, miraculous recovery at home, I am determined not to hold on to bitterness about what happened to me at your ER. I am determined to make the most of the second chance at life I’ve been given, and leave your abusive staff in the past. I’ll probably pass some of them in the super market, or sit behind them in church, our town is so small. And while you and your toxic staff will cease to haunt my future, I will surely haunt yours. Nurse A, Doctor H, and Nurses B through whatever… will never forget the night the woman with the blue hair nearly died because they were too busy wrongly judging to actually care.

I am determined to walk out the rest of my life in kindness, the very discussion I had in a blackout with God while your nurse accused me of faking a seizure. I will pray, hoping with all hope that kindness will once again be requisite for employment in your ER and every area of your corporation. Believe me, it’s possible and good for profits. The entire time I spent in Pittsburgh at Magee I never encountered a single unkind staff member from the surgeons to the housekeepers.

I know you can do it.

Cover Image Credit: Heidi Owens

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I Went Abroad To 'Find Myself' But To My Surprise, I Was So Wrong

Finding yourself is like a Jenga tower and my hands shake too much.

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When studying abroad, I feel like you either go to find yourself or you soon realize you will not return the same person you were before.

Whether it was purposeful or completely by accident, being abroad changes the deepest parts of you that you never realized could be changed. When we are home, we are a solid Jenga tower where everything fits in place as it should. Then as you leave your comfort zone, you have to take away some old pieces and rearrange things to better suit your new environment.

Some pieces are harder to remove and some glide out of place so easily, you question why they were there in the first place. All the while, you feel a bit more unsteady and you don't look up to realize you've grown taller than you ever were before.

Morocco is a beautiful country that I love very much. I thought I knew the reality of Morocco and what I was getting myself into. So many parts of this journey have been beautiful and amazing but there are things I haven't shared in the light of social media that I have been struggling with.

The main thing I am struggling with are the rules in Morocco.

You can walk in the middle of the highway, but you have three pairs of house shoes and rules on when and where to wear those shoes. I thought I always dressed modestly but I learned very quickly that I do not. I have struggled to find the balance between being modest enough, but not too modest to wear a hijab because that is something I should not do.

I have felt like there is this list of rules floating above my head that I can't reach to know what they are, so I keep breaking all of them.

I have really felt like I have lost my identity.

I thought coming to Morocco would allow me to find myself, but I am told when to eat, what to eat, how much to eat, what to wear, how many layers to wear, when to sleep, how long to sleep, what emotions I am allowed to feel, when I am allowed to feel them, how I am allowed to show my feelings, and so on.

What is the line between being culturally sensitive and being culturally puppeted?

I have cried and prayed so much. Not once have I wished to go home. Not once have I questioned God's plan. He has told me that my identity is not found in what rules I follow and which I break. My identity is not found in what I wear or how I wear it. My identity is not found in anything I do or don't do. My identity is found in Him alone.

That hasn't changed anyone around me, but it has made me stronger. It has given me an image of the plan God has for me. He gave me the image of a Jenga tower. Parts of me have to be taken away, worked on and put back in a new place in order for me to grow. While I might wobble and feel unsteady, God has a steady hand. He will not move too many pieces so that I fall over.

But even if my Jenga tower falls and everything I am crashes down, He will build me up again.

When you are finding yourself, if you really want to change, it is going to be hard, you are going to be unsteady at times and things will get messy. I have definitely seen how I place my identity in the hands of those around me. I went around the world looking for myself only to see how silly it is because I am found in Christ.

You can tell me how to dress and how to feel but that is not who I am. I am a child of God and He is pleased. Anything beyond that is man-made.

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