Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Living in a multi-cultural world

Today is, for most Muslims, the first day of Ramadan, the lunar month wherein one fasts (no eating, drinking, or sex) during daylight hours. Coworkers of mine will be leaving shortly for the meditation room for their 1 pm prayer, and I'm really thankful to work in a place that allows such a thing without much comment.

I first heard of Ramadan as a child - maybe 8 or 9 - I was suffering that mental illness common to young girls, where horses are the only thing they can think of, and I was eating up every horse related book in the library, including "The Black Stallion." At the time, I think I knew that there were people in the world who were not Christian...but I'm not sure I'd ever met any in our small rural midwestern town. Baptists were exotic, as far as we were concerned, with their church and the Methodist church out on the edge of town - my dad wasn't convinced that going to the Baptist vacation Bible school wasn't a direct road to hell.

Acorn is growing up in a much different place. Detroit has one of the largest Muslim populations in the western world, and the suburb we live in has touted that it is among the most diverse cities in the US, having something like 46 different ethnic groups represented in its borders. Even our neighborhood has people of all different races and cultures of origin - I can count at least 6 just on our two-block-long street. His doctors even represent this diversity.

Not having grown up in such a diverse place, it's hard to know what to tell Acorn. Knowing that we're a minority, religion wise, in the midst of all this is even more complex.

But for today, I'll just stick with telling my Muslim friends - no matter where they're from - to have a blessed Ramadan, and to enjoy their feast tonight, and to continue to point out to Acorn all the different kinds of people we know, and yet how they're all still wonderful people - different colors, different ways of dressing, different ways of speaking, different genders, different family structures, cognitive and physical differences too.

Explaining why some of these things make people uncomfortable can wait for Acorn to be a little older.

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