I've read that opinions are like assholes ... everybody's got one. Here's mine. ( Ahem, my Opinions! Not booty!)

Hand In Hand

Hand In Hand

Sometimes when I don't know about something, especially if it is a mainstream topic, I kind of shake my head and nod. I go with the information flow. Surely we are all guilty of this from time to time.

About a year ago I found myself kind of stumped on the subject of Islam. I was raised Christian, and I now I fall into the "other" category. I have a couple of Muslim friends, but none close enough to really teach or tell me their personal experiences with Islam.

I was finding myself more and more afraid of ISIS and subsequently Muslims, as the media coverage on beheadings and the suffering and bombings was ... suffocating me.

I wondered to myself, "What is Islam about? Is it really and truly a religion of hate and violence, as jihadists make us believe?"

This my friends, is where I know we all can meet. This is the area of fear, where we don't understand something, and find ourselves feeling scared and vulnerable. The media FEEDS on this.

I decided that I could not trust the media to educate me. Nor should you. They have their own agenda, and it is called "ratings" ... if it bleeds, it leads. This is not an accurate portrayal of life as we know it.

The internet is a mighty tool, and it lead me through a multitude of paths and tunnels and directions. I read manipulated texts from the Quran. I read pages and pages of Islam testimony on how the community felt, to have this spotlight of hate shone their way. I read the basic principles of Islam. I read everything I could about ISIS, their perverted beliefs, and how Islamaphobia fuels their recruitment process. I read about why I should or shouldn't be afraid of Muslims. I read both sides. I just read and read and read.

I am still far removed from any kind of expert on Islam, but I am thankful that instead of letting the news tell me what to believe, I researched and found out for myself.

Yesterday I was devastated, along with the world, of the attack and bloodshed that occurred in Belgium. My heart went first to the victims and their families, and next to the Muslims of the world, and that ugly spotlight that is again shining their way.

I woke up this morning and turned on the news - the updates showcased first the brutality of this attack, and then Ted Cruz's foolish stance that we should begin patrolling Muslim areas. This is what the media does - it shows us out worst nightmare, and then promotes hatred.

I can agree that not knowing something, or not fully understanding something, especially when broadcast through the media and beaten into our heads as evil is nothing short of ... terrifying. But I urge you, if nothing else, to DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH. Do not let CNN or Fox News or the BBC or any other network sway you. Find out for yourself.

We will not defeat terrorism by dividing. We can only defeat terrorism by uniting. Hand in hand. Please, I beg you, if you are afraid. Read. Learn. Grow. Islam is not our enemy. It is the extremists and their repugnant views that we must defeat. Together. United. 

 I would love to credit this talented artist. For now, it is artist unknown.  

I would love to credit this talented artist. For now, it is artist unknown.  

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