I believe in the goodness of human beings. I believe that we have the ability to see humanity without the blinders of our personal religious, cultural or other views. No doubt that at the present time the whole world is under siege. We are not only under siege because of the threat of terrorism, disease, hunger, war, but a siege that may be affecting us more profoundly and more consequentially than the headline grabbing threats I mentioned. The siege that concerns me the most is the atmosphere in which people of different religious, cultural and sometimes political persuasion see each other. It is not difficult to notice how common it has become to use labels and very simply use broad paint brushes to define how we want to see others. This is happening on all sides of the divide and there are those who go to such extremes as to use terrorism and other forms of violence to show their feelings about the picture they have painted in their minds. Some call this siege the clash of civilizations. I believe in human civilization built on common ground where people treat each other based on each other’s actions. It is this common ground between human beings and my own experience which give me hope for the future.
As an Afghan born Muslim American, my belief in the goodness of humankind has been getting stronger for over a quarter century. It began in1973 when my family hosted Jim, an exchange student from Cleveland. I shared my bedroom with him that warm, dry Kabul summer. The bonding between Jim, myself and the rest of my family was immediate and strong which continues to this day. My belief in mankind’s goodness got another boost when 23 years ago I married my wife and was welcomed to a Christian family, where I saw nothing but understanding and generosity despite obvious differences. This experience took me back to my own upbringing and what my parents had taught me growing up in Kabul in the sixties and early seventies. It was my obligation to return the kindness of others. I am not sure if I have succeeded in all instances, but I have tried. I consider myself lucky to have friends and extended family who are catholic, protestant, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu and of other persuasions and nationalities. I therefore, declare that my life has been enriched as a direct result of human goodness which transcends all boundaries and that is why I believe in it.
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