Acceptance is easier than you think
America is divided. Our nation, which was once built on the foundation of unity, has now isolated neighbors from each other and turned brother against brother. In times like these, how can people of different beliefs and different backgrounds possibly remain unified under threats of terror and nuclear warfare? How can we possibly attain world peace when we are at the brink of war amongst each other? The answer lies in a seemingly easy concept, but one that we have struggled with since the beginning of civilization: acceptance
This is America. This is a nation that celebrates freedom, parades diversity and welcomes immigrants with open arms. The people in this country are allowed to practice whatever religion they wish. They are allowed to openly criticize their government. They are allowed to speak their mind. Every single person that calls the United States of America home is granted these rights.
As Americans, we often boast about our freedoms. However, we forget our country has a dark past, shaded with slavery, segregation and violence. We forget that, while all may seem to be well now, the hostility remains. It remains when Southerners prance around with confederate flags, reminding their black neighbors of their once inhumane status. It remains when a young Jewish boy sees a spray-painted swastika, reminding him that even in America, there are people who wish to exterminate those of his faith. It remains when a Muslim is called a terrorist, forcing them to carry the burden of the actions of the few hijacking their religion. It remains when an immigrant is chastised for weak English and told to go back to their country, while questioning the certainty of freedom in America.
As a country, we need to stand together. We need to respect each other. We need to be open to each other. We need to strengthen our relationship with each other in order to face the turmoil that will no doubt plague the world very soon. We need to accept each other. We need to accept our differences.
This kind of unity is not impossible. I am a member of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community and a resident of the great State of New Jersey. This past weekend, we held our 69th annual convention in Harrisburg, Pa. At this three-day convention, a wide range of topics were discussed in front of a crowd of approximately 9,000. The gathering included people of different ages and backgrounds coming together for a common purpose. We heard speeches relative to peace, justice and diversity. Scanning the congregation, I was amazed to witness unity right in front of my eyes among such a diverse group of people.
As an Ahmadi Muslim, I am asking you to stop holding other Muslims and me accountable for what we do not do and do not condone. As an immigrant, I am asking you to educate yourself on my culture and be willing to mold with us to live harmoniously. As an American teenager, I am asking you to help make the world a better place for my generation by exercising the values on which this great country was formed.
Only then will we truly be the United States of America.
Originally published at https://www.usatoday.com.