Free Your Mind, Open Your Heart, Smile

April 4, 2017 | by Karen

If you choose to read no further, please hear this:

World travel and seeing how a different culture lives will open your mind and create more empathy in your life for all humans. Please, make it a priority to travel somewhere very different from your life and just take it in. Make a new friend. Share your experience. And SMILE! 

Okay, now read further if you wish.

I felt compelled to start the blog up again and begin with a rant, right after the first Trump travel ban. I was livid over his blatant targeting of refugees and people from Muslim countries. It boiled my blood to be a citizen of a country whose president spews hate and fear across our globe. Then another attempt at a travel ban, then a ban on computers in carry on bags. All against Muslim countries and airlines. Discrimination of a whole group of people based on the hateful actions of a few. How many times do we repeat this lesson in history? How much longer do we spread the fear?

A wave of nationalism has hit our world hard. Look to the madness of other world leaders, Venezuela’s Maduro, Philippine’s Duterte, UK’s May, and so many others, brought to power by citizens hoping for………..what? Countries that contain only people like them? What is nationalism when your Jordanian family had lived in the United Arab Emirates for 50 years, yet cannot be citizens of the country. Seems only blood will allow you to be an Emirati? How does blood matter when you have been adopted and have no idea your “real” nationality? The examples go on and on.

We are a global society. Going backwards, declaring us better and them worse will not help humankind. Yes, change is scary and yet, it will happen without you. So educate yourself, preferably with your own experiences and not what specific news sources or your fear-filled leader wants to tell you.  Traveling and meeting others who seem different than you is the best eduction, the best way to free your mind.

In Islam there are 5 pillars of faith, the third being Purification or Charity. Within this pillar, there are two categories of charity. The first is zakah, being a monetary giving. The second, sadaqah, or preforming an act that brings joy or benefits to someone, like the act of being kind or simply smiling.

What can you do today to make our world a more loving place? Perhaps start with a smile.

P.S. We are currently traveling in Dubai, one of the world’s most multi-cultural cities.

We visited the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding, which offers tours, lectures and fully open discussion about Emirati & Arab culture, Islam faith and Muslim practices. If you find yourself in this part of the world, and I highly recommend that you do, I encourage you to include this into your visit.