Last Wednesday I was fortunate enough to be working at Edsel Ford High School while there was a very confused man (from Florida no less) out front protesting about our Muslim students picking on those that are not Muslim. The day before he came to protest, classes were engaged in lessons on freedom of speech. I've witnessed people being upset over his visit. Many people want him to just leave us alone. As much as I'd love that, I'm sure he'll find another excuse to come here again. However, the city and school district took this situation and turned it into a positive. Dearborn shined last Wednesday! The community went about their day and did their daily routine without letting him get in our way. Students who were at school wore stickers that read "no place for hate". I was proud of our kids. I was proud of school district. I was proud of our city! Many thanks to those that made sure our staff and students were safe from parents manning the hallways to the administration and city police and leaders. We had reinforcement from the county and the State. What a wonderful message this sent.. team work!
With that I would like to state my point... DIVERSITY is what makes Dearborn unique! When I was growing up (not in Dearborn), I wanted to move to California!! I wanted it so bad that I did shortly after my 19th birthday. I lived there for 5 years. It was a life changing experience for me. It taught me how many people are out there that are different than me. I was exposed to all kinds of people from different countries to different religions. I appreciated the experience. I truly believe it was what helped me to this day to be tolerant of others.
Fast forward to 14 years ago when I moved to Dearborn. I was not born and bred in Dearborn like many of my friends are. My husband has never lived outside of Dearborn. Many people don't realize that I'm not originally from here. The reason probably is because I truly believe in Dearborn. I have a true geniune love for this city. I have put in countless hours to this city and school district on a volunteer basis and have loved every minute of it. The one thing that makes me love it so much is it's diverse community. I believe that to be a well rounded person, you need to embrace people for who they are. You need to be made aware of others around you, who they are, what they stand for, who and what they believe in. I embrace the diversity of Dearborn. I always have. One of the things I can honestly say about myself is that I will never judge you for what you believe in. I accept people for who they are. That doesn't mean I'm friends with everyone or that I like them on a personal level but I respect them. Every person has the right to be who they are. When people don't understand people's religions or their culture, you tend to see lack of support or even hate for those people. It's really a shame. I am NOT Muslim. I am a Christian. That does not give me the right to tell my Muslim friends they are in the "wrong" religion. Just like it doesn't give them the right to tell me. In fact, I have some of the best Muslim friends around. They are so peaceful and loving and caring. When my son was in a school on the East end of Dearborn that is primarily Arabic and Muslim, the parents there took me in like I was one of their own. I was made to feel welcome and cherished just for me being me. When my son transfered to a different special needs program to a West end school, I was treated like I had the plague. These people were just like me. So, why was I treated that way? Good question. But now, that experience is behind me and I've come to know and have plenty of friends around me. Muslim, Christian, Wiccan, you name it, I have friends from all walks of life. Divorced, remarried, married, single, gay, straight, young, old and in between... my friends are diverse and I cherish them.
Diversity is what makes Dearborn the BEST community to live in. Embrace it and grow from it. We have a gold mine right at our finger tips. Learn from one another. Be tolerant. Be patient. Make your decisions on who your friends are by who they are inside. NOT what they believe in or don't believe in. If more people would just try to understand others, we'd be in a much better place.
Thank you to my friends who have been there for me in my darkest hours. To those that have been there for me when I needed them! Thank you to those that have embraced ME for who I am! Because of you, I am a better person. Because of you, I know love and friendship!
Diversity is what makes the world go 'round. Welcome to Dearborn, where the train of intolerance and bigotry has derailed! This is "no place for hate".