Tolerance well-preached, under-practiced

There are a lot of things in this world that annoy me: my small hometown, my crappy phone, my confusing and nonexistent love life. But nothing compares to the way my blood boils when some ignorant fool decides run his ignorant mouth and gain national attention for it. When that ignorant fool announces he is planning a Quran-burning bonfire on the ninth anniversary of 9/11, it really infuriates me. Yes, Terry Jones, you really make me mad.

Now, I know what you’re about to say: “Reem, the only reason you are sensitive to this issue is because you are Muslim.” While it’s true that I was raised that way, no one in their right mind could call me practicing. Sorry, Mom.

But it’s not just me or devout Muslims who are against this Quran-burning. Millions of people across America and the world have voiced that they too are opposed to this idea. Political leaders such as President Obama and General Petraeus also voiced their concern and disapproval of such a stunt.

And I know what you’ll say next: “Reem, the guy called off the Quran-burning. Why are you still whining about it?” Because, it’s people like Jones, people who falsely shout “fire” in a crowded theater, who are giving Americans a really bad name on the global stage, and as a dual citizen of the U. S. and Syria, I find myself having to account for the actions of both sets of “my people”, and I’m tired of it.

It’s frustrating to be unable to explain the actions of a few extremists to people you interact with every day. When I travel to Syria, I am constantly defending America’s ideals and the American people from people who just don’t understand our way of life. After 9/11, I was hounded by my ill-informed, seventh-grade classmates who wanted to know why my people hated Americans so much. As a seventh-grader, I didn’t have the slightest clue how to answer this question.

We should know not to judge an entire group of people based on the actions of a few extremists. We should know not to accept stereotypes for absolute truths. How many times do we have to preach about tolerance? How many times do we have to learn to accept each other for who we? Come on, people. Let’s start playing nicely.

As someone who grew up in the U. S., I can honestly say that the ideas of tolerance and acceptance have been drilled into my head since kindergarten. This is why it’s so hard for me to accept that there are still so many intolerable people in our society. What makes this matter more infuriating is that some of these people are leaders in their communities.

I expect a lot out of our leaders, from pastors in tiny churches to our president. Religious leaders in particular should advocate tolerance, acceptance and peace, unless of course their faith involves being intolerable of people who are different.

From what I’ve experienced, peace and acceptance are the main themes of organized religions. My experiences may be a little biased because I choose to surround myself with open-minded people; and yes, one can argue that plenty of wars have been fought in the name of religion, but I think the underlying goal will always come back to tolerance.

This is why I cannot even begin to fathom Jones’s thought process. Why did he think hosting this book barbeque would be a good idea? I don’t think he ever really stopped to think about what he was saying and the repercussions. What did he hope to accomplish with this publicity stunt?

He claims to have wanted to send a radical message to Muslim extremists. In an interview with ABC, Jones stresses that this message is not geared towards the moderate Muslims who live peacefully. However, the only message I received was that Jones was an ignorant fool and an extremist who received national recognition for a stunt he eventually cancelled. Jones serves as an example of those few bad seeds in society who give the rest of us an undeserved bad name.

Regardless of your beliefs, I hope we can all agree that what Jones was planning on doing was disrespectful, stupid and unnecessary. Whether he was burning the Quran, the Bible or the Torah for whatever reason, this stunt screamed hatred and narrow-mindedness from its inception. Call me a hippie, but I believe we should all just get over our differences and love each other, in a platonic way, of course.