Thursday, May 26, 2005

"I have a Dream..."

I love quotations & one of my favorite ones is by Gandhi that says, "Be the change you want to see in the world." Last year, I took a Human Rights class & we learned about Gandhi's principle of non-violence to fight oppression. We read a book called A Force More Powerful that recorded all the non-violent movements in the 20th century & I was blown away by the power people can have only if they organize towards a cause. That's what people like Prophet Mohamed, our Imams, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr & others did. But for me, there's a recent hero: Paul Wellstone.

Fall'02 marked my initiation into politics & I was so excited but when Paul & Sheila Wellsone died in the plane crash, I was crushed. I remember crying for days & feeling so angry at God & kept asking "Why him, Why now?" Ironically, his first & last vote in the Senate were his votes against the war in Iraq in 1991 & 2002. I had admired him so much for his honesty, integrity, energy & how he connected with people - he gave people hope & inspired them to dream of a bright future. I always say that the one thing that Muslim communities lack today is an inspirational leader - someone who can sell a dream. I first heard MLK's I have a Dream in Grade 9 during the opening ceremony of the Olympics in Atlanta in 1996 & was moved to tears. I can only imagine what a huge difference he made in the lives for thousands of African Americans trying to convince them that they could end segregation through non-violence.

Fortunately, after the death of the Wellstones, his family & friends did not give up & realized the need to keep fighting. Thus, they created Camp Wellstone - a weekend conference that I attended last week. We were taught Wellstone's principles on how to organize, build a base & be a leader. The purpose of the conference is to make us all realize that our goal is not to win the next election but build a progressive movement in the United States & take back our country. It was an empowering & inspiring experience to meet so many people who work on issues ranging from poverty, education, health care to the environment. I didn't feel alone anymore. I met this amazing woman who lived through segregation & remembered the Civil Rights Movement & talked about the power of dreams...I believe her. I feel like people can take anything away from me but as long as I can dream & hope, I have power...

And that's why I like's the epicenter of politics & I don't feel like a lone voice in the wilderness. People don't think it's weird that I start my day listening to NPR - I mean c'mon, there's nothing more soothing than the familiar voice of Carl Kasell! I like the fact that my co-workers & I begin our work day reading NY Times & get excited about things like fair trade tea & coffee (which we now use in our office - wooohoo!!). I also really enjoy the diversity, being able to walk to work & take the metro train to almost anywhere I need to - driving in DC is CRAZZZYY! Because people come from all over the US, you get driving diversity of the slow drivers from the South, to the moderate mid-westerners to the brake-slamming east/west coasters! I also have to say that customer service in DC sucks - I have been so spoilt with the "Customer Comes First" hospitality of Minnesota. And it would be nice to breathe in some of that fresh air again...However after all is said and done, having lived in Dubai, Minnesota, Amman & now DC, in many ways, I'm a city gal at heart! :o)

On the light side, since I've moved to DC, I've been watching more TV than I did in Minnesota. For example, I had never watched The American Idol, Desperate Housewives, or Alias before. Last Sunday, I went to get something from the refrigerator in the TV room in the basement & it was packed with girls - why? They were watching the last season episode of "Desperate Housewives" & I have to admit I was drawn in. I'm still not a big fan of "The American Idol," but I'm definitely hooked to "Alias"! I've been following the life of Sydney, Nadia & Vaughn for the past few weeks & was really engrossed in yesterday's last episode of the season....& then bam it left us all hanging in suspense over what happened to Vaughn! AAAAHHH...well, I guess ABC now has a fan who will be eagerly waiting for the season to start again in the Fall!

I also never got involved with American sports in MN - sorry I can't stand American football or hockey - they're so violent! I was a huge cricket fan in Dubai, so when I was offered free tickets to a baseball game a few weeks ago, I took it. Yes, I know they're very different games, but at least the principle is similar. It was fun to watch the DC Nationals beat the NY Mets 5-1!

Anyways, it's time for me to hit the sack. I hope you all have a GREAT Memorial Weekend *fingers crossed for good weather!*

Take care y'all...Luv 'n' regards