Embracing Our Differences

” Christian, Jew, Muslim, Shaman, Zoroastrian, stone, ground, mountain, river, each has a secret way of being with the mystery, unique and not to be judged.” Rumi

It was an odd place for deep conversation, I ran into my friend Leyla in a shopping Center. I greeted her with enthusiasm, “it’s been a long time.”

“Amina”, she said with hesitation, “I’m sorry I haven’t been in touch with you lately but my mother passed away.”

“Oh Leyla, I’m sorry to hear that,” I replied sincerely as we sat down amidst the hustle and bustle of the shoppers.

Back in 2007 , the year after my mother passed away, I wrote some personal notes that I’m sharing with you today. These included many lessons I learned from my mother.

Leyla and I continued the conversation , she said something that brought back some vivid memories of my mother’s death. Leyla continued telling me about her mother’s loving and caring soul and all the beautiful memories she gave her.

Her story suddenly hit me. My mother had about the same character, she was compassionate, tolerant and had a great sense of humor. She enjoyed telling us about the good old days when people lived in peace and harmony. At that time, Spanish, Jews and Portuguese were considered as Moroccan citizens. My mom’s best friends and neighbors were Adiya the jewish, Maria the Spanish and Paula the Portuguese. Everytime she brought up those memories, her eyes lit up and she excitedly started describing how they used to live like family, taking care of each other’s children, cooking together or knitting and doing some embroidery. My mother created more life around her by celebrating diversity and practicing acceptance.

Whenever she watched the news on TV, she would say,” Why so much hatred, intolerance and violence? We were much happier in the past”. Then she would turn the TV off and continue telling us about the amazing story of her life.

“Our ability to reach unity in diversity will be the beauty and the test of our civilization.” Mahatma Gandhi

Often times and when my mother was nostalgic about the past, we would go for a walk in the old medina of Asilah, my home town.

The pearl white of its walls, the turquoise blue of its beaches which expand on a limitless coast are breathtaking. Asilah, the haven of peace and tranquility. If the old walls could talk, they would tell some great stories of the people that had left their imprint there: Portuguese, Spanish, Jews and Moroccans all lived there together. In this beautiful town, there was no such a thing as discrimination, all people were living their own way in harmony.

My mother enjoyed her life to the fullest. She used to appreciate every moment. What we do each minute everyday determines our legacy, what our children remember, and what we will leave behind.

“Love deeper and be more tolerant” was my mother’s advice to all of us. I’m grateful for everything my mother taught me. She showed me how to respect diverse religions and spiritual traditions of others.We need to move through the fear of the other and find out what connect us and brings us closer.

I’ll end off the article with a quote from Kofi Annan:“We may have different religions, different languages, different colored skin, but we all belong to one human race.”

Thanks to Amina Alami : https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/embracing-our-differences-amina-alami/