Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Far out into the Ocean

Every time I see the beautiful Pacific Ocean in Malibu, my heart smiles. No matter what I'm feeling, no matter how hectic my day has been, no matter what my worries may be, I look at the ocean and I'm in awe.

Is there anything more beautiful? I think about the incredible world underneath, about the even more incredible world on the other side of the ocean, and suddenly I have the same feeling I get when I'm looking out my window in an airplane at all the little houses and lights. The feeling of how small my worries are in such a vast world.

If you've been following the news, something unimaginable happened in Ontario, Canada that has captivated so many. And quite a few people have asked me about it, so I decided to address it here. I'm talking about the honor killings that three members of an Afghan family were found guilty of for killing four female family members. I won't talk about the specific case, since it's available through any news site.

When I first heard about this story, I had the same reaction as everyone else, how is it humanly possible for someone to be able to commit such disgusting acts. I was horrified and in disbelief. I come from an Afghan family and have never come across any other Afghans that behave remotely close to these people. I am one of the happiest people on Earth.

The only message I would like to convey is that human beings are human beings. Put religion, race, gender, and all other forms of identification aside. In the end, we are all human beings. There are good human beings and bad human beings. One specific case, one horrifying story, does not represent the whole. We have to remember that news stories usually encompass the most dramatic cases. While the remaining 95% are not covered.

I remember the day in college when I chose to major in Journalism. Below is an excerpt from my thesis about that day, it's written in story form and it's a small part of a much larger memoir.

October 7, 2001, the day when the United States officially invaded Afghanistan. I was a student at California State University, Northridge, at the time, majoring in computer science. One day I was sitting in Math class when a student next to me asked me where I was from.


Her eyes shot wide open as her eyebrows rose.

“But I was born here,” I said.

“Do you have family living in Afghanistan?” she asked.


“Did they know ahead of time that 9/11 was going to happen?” she asked.

“What?” I responded. “What do you mean?” I didn’t know if I heard her correctly.

“Did they know that they were going to attack the United States?” she asked.

“No,” I told her. “They probably still don’t even know about it. In fact, they are wondering right now why airstrikes are killing them.”

I really thought a lot about why she asked a question like that. Where was she getting her information?

I have been asked a lot of questions about Afghanistan and Muslims my whole life, but this question did something to me. Something must be done, I thought to myself.

And only one answer came to mind: The news media.

That’s when I decided to change my major to journalism.

One person, one act, one story cannot represent the whole picture. But, by learning from one another, by interacting with our community, we can slowly broaden the horizon.

Look far out into the Ocean...and your heart will smile.

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