Words Are Like Weapons, Maybe Worse In Some Ways

Actions have consequences. Did you think about that before you spoke?

by Deedra Abboud in Muslim, Social Views, Solutions, Uncategorized
December 6, 2016 0 comments

Recently one of my sisters told me another sister said something bad about me.

I asked her why she would tell me, her sister, that another sister, sister to both of us, said something bad about me.

She replied that she was just telling me a story.

I responded that there was no point to that story except to cause strife between me and the other sister.

She denied it, of course.

But I held my ground. I continued to ask the same question. She continued to deny she had any negative intention.

I asked her how she thought I would react to the story.

She said she didn’t think about it.

I then asked her to provide me with any other reason she would tell me the story without intending to make me upset at the other sister. 

She stuck with her explanation that there was no point to the story at all.

I didn’t let it rest. I continued to ask her the same questions in various ways – eventually telling her that there was just no other explanation than she intended to make me mad at the other sister.

And that she should take some time to reflect on why she would want that.

I’m seeing this a lot.

Either no thought about consequences of actions or denial of a negative intention when asked.

For example, people sharing – if not completely fake – than highly suspect articles on social media about Muslims trying to take over the United States or American Universities canceling Christmas parties because they are following Sharia.

When I respond with statistics or any facts, they always respond that they do not mean ALL Muslims, only the extremists – of course, that is never right away. It always takes several comments back and forth before we get to that ‘explanation.’

Well thanks, but your posts indicate otherwise.

When you share that crap it has consequences. Unfortunately, we ‘peaceful Muslims,’ who are the majority, don’t have Teflon protecting us from those who can’t tell the difference. You are spreading lies and flagrant generalities that increase hate and make fellow Americans unsafe.

I say fellow Americans because the majority of Muslims in the United States are US citizens. The next largest group are Permanent Residents on their way to becoming US citizens.

Not only that, people who aren’t Muslim are being perceived as Muslims – becoming collateral damage.

Haters can’t tell the difference between a Muslim, an Orthodox Jew, a Mennonite, or a Sikh.[Here is the coolest test to see if you can pick out religion based on head covering. I got 7/10 right, so even I can get confused.]

People often respond that we can’t stop the haters.

Maybe not every single one, but you’re not off the hook either.

If you spread lies that make you feel good but also encourages and enrage haters, you are equally responsible for the consequences. Maybe not under the law, but morally.

If you hear or see people spreading misinformation, that you know is misinformation, and say nothing, you are also responsible.

You don’t have to directly say it’s not true or even argue with them. Most of the time asking them for a source is enough to get them to backtrack from the extreme.

Even softer possibilities are questions like, “How do you know that’s true?” or “Do you know any Muslims?” or “Do you mean all Muslims?”

You can also respond with “The Muslims I know don’t believe that” if you actually know a Muslim.

Once I was at a lunch meeting with several people. I heard a law enforcement officer at the other end of the table state he did not like Native Americans because everyone he had ever met was a criminal.

Fairly shocked (both at his comment and because I thought I ‘knew’ him) I responded, “I can hook you up with some really great Native Americans.”

He said, “No. I don’t have time.”

“How about dinner. You gotta eat,” I said.

“No. Dinner is time for my family,” he responded.

I turned to one of the other attendees, just far enough away from me that my voice would carry, and began to tell stories about groups I had met over the years that, once I got to know them, I was really surprised that they weren’t anything like what I expected. I then related how that is so often the case when people meet me – that I open their eyes to new information that breaks so many crazy stereotypes they have about Muslims.

After the event was over, one of the other attendees approached me and asked if I had watched the man while I was talking. I told him no. He then told me that he observed the other man, so upset by my comments in the beginning, completely relax and begin nodding his head in agreement as I related my stories.

No confrontation but I didn’t let his remarks go unchallenged either.

The world is complicated. There are people who want to hurt other people. Some based on a twisted idea of religion, some for power and control, some without explanation, and some simply due to ignorance or lack of empathy for others.

But we have a choice to create the world we want.

Each of us are like a ripple in life. How we conduct ourselves determines whether our ripple is a good one or not.

It is how we conduct our daily lives that matters. How we teach our children. How we treat our family members and partners. How we act with our co-workers. How we interact with strangers. How we educate ourselves about the world and others. How we respond to stress and negativity. How we show up in life.

Those things are completely under our control.

When we do things or say things, we really should think about why we are doing or saying those things. What do we want to happen as a result? What is our intention? Is it true?

Because when asked why we did or said something negative or hateful, “I don’t know” is not an acceptable answer for a child – much less an adult.





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