Wednesday, February 4, 2009

"Angry" E-Mails

Is that idealistic "yes we can" attitude floating up to Canada? Or have I gone crazy? Perhaps I have fallen sick not with the flu this winter, but with a type of Obama fever.

Timid person that I am, I have begun writing letters of protest and letters of support. I argued that a popular e-mail forward should be changed because it unfairly characterized a certain religion. I congratulated a news program on a balanced report. I railed against a local mosque that provides women with a separate, small, and less-than-clean space to pray.

Something in me has either snapped or blossomed. I am either so fed up that I don't care if people don't like me, or I have finally grown into a healthy sense of my own importance.

I thought I would be ignored--or criticized. But no.

The mosque--the first recipient of my "angry e-mails"--reacted to my descriptions with shock and sadness. The mosque board said they had no idea that Muslim women experienced the problems I had listed; they always try, they said, to accommodate everyone to the best of their ability. Please contact the imam, they urged, to discuss your concerns further.

Soon after I argued with the sender of the prejudiced e-mail forward, it was reworded. The sender hadn't realized the old wording was untrue.

My next project is to write to an imam whose sermon I didn't agree with. If I could only find his e-mail address...

Because, you see, I am afraid to talk to people in person. I would turn red, forget to breathe, and nod in agreement to anything in order to sit down rather than pass out or start shaking.

Still, the reactions to my angry e-mails have been encouraging. Maybe I do have something to tell people that they didn't know before. In fact, I don't quite know what to do when an e-mail is so successful that I am asked to meet with someone to discuss my concerns further. I want to remain blissfully anonymous.

I have received some negative responses that make me want to give up and quiet down. But not yet. I am still in awe that some things that I thought were obvious had never been considered by some people--the board of the local mosque, for example. None of my Muslim friends go there because of the problems I brought up, but because they don't go, no one at the mosque knows that anyone has a problem with the situation there. Imagine if everyone who agreed with me wrote e-mails.

I know from experience that especially when challenging a religious institution, I need to take care to spend time with people who are caring and nurture my relationship with God. Otherwise, I could feel too alone and discouraged.

I also know that I am not always right, and that there are some who will always disagree with me. However, when I am called to protest and it rises up in me; when I can point out the good that the person I'm arguing with is doing and encourage them to do even more good, rather than saying they are useless and evil; when I stand up for myself and others who don't have a voice--then I should do it.

Maybe we can make a difference.

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