Around the Table, We Are All Family

By Rania Abousleiman

I am a first generation citizen who was born and raised in the United States of America. A land where freedom, democracy, and equality bleed. A land of opportunity for those born and raised, traveled near and far, and for those who will be coming. I was raised in a household with immigrant parents coming from the same region, but from completely different worlds. My father is from Lebanon and was raised Catholic, while my mother is from Iran and was raised Muslim. The two worlds met, fell in love, and had a family. They raised me and my siblings with no religion attached, but as decent people with open hearts, kindness, and good ethics. Although I was not raised with religion, my extended family on both sides were raised as Catholics and Muslims. They go to church or mosque, they pray to the same God, and they are all some of the best people I have ever known. There is no divide in my family, just equality and acceptance. Imagine living in my world. My world where Catholics and Muslims sitting at the same dinner table, talking the same politics, and sharing the same love for their family and the world they live in.

      I have been living in my world for 22 years and have felt fortunate to have experienced the love between these two worlds. Some may say I have been blinded or gullible to believe that my world is similar to the real world. Others may not even be able to relate to the sorrow I feel. But my world is still worth sharing. My heart is heavy with sorrow because people from seven predominantly Muslim countries, will not be allowed to enter the United States of America for 90 days. My heart is heavy for my family in Iran who are not able to come to the land of opportunity and freedom, for the refugees who have been suffering far too long, and for the people who do not realize the impact this decision has. As I continue to receive updates about the policy, I cannot help but wonder how it all came down to this. I cannot understand how a country that was founded on the ideal of freedom can close their doors to people who are seeking the same exact freedom, from war infested zones they have been calling home. I am disappointed in the place I call home. I am disappointed that the country I have stood for and by has turned its back on me, my family, and my people. For those reading this, I urge everyone to ask questions, be open-minded, and sympathize for the many innocent people caught in the cross-fire. For my fellow Arabs, Muslims, and Middle Eastern family, please know that you are not alone and that I stand with you.

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