This I Believe

Iqbal - Fountain, Colorado
Entered on May 22, 2006
Age Group: 18 - 30

Having grown up in a small town Southern Louisiana, it was quite difficult to fully appreciate the effort and sacrifice my parents expended in teaching my brother and I our culture and faith. In many ways the second-generation American journey towards American assimilation and identity is a cliché narrative. What I have come to appreciate is how my faith and heritage exists in me through civilizational memories.

Being of South Asian origin, the faith of the Ancients and their culture has been preserved for me through my parents and the time I have spent in the land of my ancestors. When I watch the news or do analyses I can fully appreciate the views of the other and how each person’s life experiences have culminated in the views and decisions that they make. In the book God Emperor of Dune, the Emperor Leto II has some very philosophical introspections which are salient. He remarks that all our ancestors were survivors. In the pre-civilization epoch of human existence to the pre-modern and modern eras, our ancestors survived. In the Hobbesian state of nature, our ancestors survived long enough to procreate. There were innumerable things which killed many potential bloodlines like disease and war, but our ancestors survived and perhaps many were killers or philosophers or both. Thus our potential is a culmination of each contribution to our genetic makeup and genetic memory that are expressed, like dormant spores, when the conditions are right. I believe spirituality and religion are the keys to unlocking our greatest potentials and suppressing our most vile instincts that have helped us achieve the heights of human existence.

I believe in the Eternal One and his teachings of compassion and social justice. I believe in the God of creation of and Lord of destruction and that His Divine Emissary’s mission was to help us unlock our spiritual potential and realize the Divine through reflective action.

What troubles me are the actions and views of my second-generation American contemporaries who tend to reject or trivialize their heritage and invoke it simply as an interesting dinner party topic of conversation when explaining the origin of their name. The ancient cultures of human civilization are the culminations of millennia of experience, adaptation, and wisdom. Only by embracing and more importantly understanding our heritages, can we fully embrace our common humanity. By looking into and finally beyond ourselves and acting with compassion towards all through observing the eternal truth of all faiths, the Golden Rule, will we achieve a more peaceful and harmonious world. I believe that I’m an American, a South Asian, a Muslim, a political scientist, and a human being. I believe in the traditions of the Ancients and the values of the Moderns in as much as they lead toward self-sacrifice and public service for the benefit of all.