Donald Trump has campaigned on a slogan that says “Make America great again.” America is already great Mr. Trump. I wonder why he or his followers haven’t noticed. If Mr. Trump wasn’t so busy bashing the citizens (from Muslims to Mexicans) he hopes to represent, perhaps the greatness of America would become apparent. It is to me. According to the Corporation for National and Community Service, a Federal agency, at least 62 million Americans volunteered in some capacity in the year 2014. Ordinary men, women and children freely give of their time at hospitals, nursing homes, schools, libraries, prisons, animal shelters, airports, soup kitchens and much more. Then there are our financial contributions, which are quite substantial. We donate to churches, the Girl Scouts and to the Sierra Club, among a host of other worthy causes. According to the National Philanthropic Trust, Americans donated $373 billion to charity. Thousands of Americans volunteer overseas too, often at considerable risk, in Third World nations. Doctors and nurses work in hospitals treating refugees fleeing conflict zones or teaching children how to read and write in remote villages. Engineers dig wells to provide fresh drinking water to prevent the spread of communicable diseases like cholera. The list goes on. Americans are quite exceptional. We clean up our neighborhoods on Saturday mornings and host block parties so we become more than just neighbors. We provide safety to abused, abandoned and neglected children. Athletes sponsor community sporting events to keep our youth safe and sound. Homeless shelters, many of which operate on private donations, offer a hot meal and free lodging for the dispossessed. Thanks to a free press we are informed about what’s happening in our world. All citizens over the age of 18 have the right to vote. Our criminal justice system although not perfect is among the best in the world. So are our schools, hospitals, and highways. Every mall, no matter the size, is stocked with the latest consumer goods. Law enforcement investigates crimes, no matter who is victimized. Even crimes against animals are taken seriously. America indeed has her faults. We have a shameful history of segregation and meddling in foreign affairs. Innocent men and women have been incarcerated for crimes they did not commit. There is plenty of room for improvement. But Mr. Trump, you are wrong when you say America isn’t great. We are a nation that embraces diversity as well as freedom of religion. Muslim women like me can wear a hijab without risk of arrest as in European nations. Ethnic restaurants all over the country do a thriving business. Interfaith movements are becoming increasingly popular. Mr. Trump has misled his followers into believing there are grievous wrongs in the USA that only he can correct. That is simply not so. Mr. Trump has lied, deceived and cheated his followers. If America wasn’t so great then why do thousands of immigrants clamor to come here every year? We are a nation at peace with freedoms others envy. Mr. Trump has damaged our reputation at home and abroad by slamming Muslims, Mexicans, immigrants, women, the disabled, and even the Pope. If you want to keep America great, then don’t vote for Mr. Trump.
Please share and help me find Calvin Howard, born around December 1985 in what was then known as Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center in New York City. He was abandoned by his mother. I helped to care for him while I did my social work field placement. I would love to be re-united with him. If you know anything about Calvin, please let me know. He would be around 30 years old by now. I may have his only baby pictures. Love you Calvin.
Last evening, I volunteered with my Muslim and Christian friends to serve a hot meal to homeless people at a Christian church in Chandler AZ. A group of churches coordinate services to offer free lodging and meals to local homeless adults. Volunteers at the churches do an exemplary job to offer this service to the homeless. May Allah reward you all.
Homelessness is a nagging problem across the USA. It does not spare Arizona either. Most shelters cater to families. Adults are often left out. Those with pets, usually dogs, just stay on the streets. I had the honor and privilege to help serve the meal last evening to a small group of homeless men and women of all ages and races. Once the meal (paid for by the American Muslim Women’s Association) was served, we volunteers sat with the homeless men and women. One was an Army veteran displaced by an apartment fire. He is trying to get assistance from the Veteran’s Administration. Another woman, who appeared in her 50s, was also displaced by fire. Unless you hold apartment insurance, the landlord is not responsible for your losses. Another man was just down on his luck but hoped to find an apartment soon. Rising rents are a setback to stability for all low income people of any race, age or religion. I face that myself. I survive on a meager disability allotment each month. If it wasn’t for a subsidized apartment, I’d be on the streets too. I simply cannot afford a market rate apartment. The only way many people pay the rent is to work two jobs. I see that at the airport. But let me not get into a discussion about the lack of affordable housing that our government refuses to address. The outpouring of support from both my Muslim community and our Christian friends was so uplifting. That is what Muslims are about. That is what Christians are about. We rise by lifting others. Donald Trump’s supporters are not true Christians. ISIS supporters are not real Muslims. These people are cruel, heartless and in some cases violent. We are all God’s children. Last night, was a fine example of humanity and I was glad to be there. My reward was their appreciation. Every one of the homeless guests was so grateful, so thankful, so kind. That warmed my heart. Thank you Sister Nagia for inviting me to attend.
Twice over the past few months I encountered angry, surly drivers, probably Donald Trump supporters. One brute in a pick-up truck tried to run me over in my scooter that I use because of a car accident. The other driver aimed his car at me and my Muslim sister as we casually drove down a city street, scaring but not surprising us. At a recent pot luck dinner of Muslim women I mentioned how I felt fear for the first time in my life because I wear a hijab, an obvious sign that I am a Muslim. Donald Trump is on fire to win the presidency by denigrating others, including Muslims, and boasting about it. Is Trump’s motor mouth responsible for the spike in arson, physical and verbal attacks as well as murder? Or has he merely removed the lid from a brew of hatred, fear and despair that simmered for years and then watch it burn? I don’t know. My age and my disability have not immunized me from the surging hostility. A sister contacted me expressing concern about my fears. Understandably, as a Muslim, she shares my worries. So do a lot of people, many of whom are not Muslim. Undoubtedly, these good, decent people are fed up with Donald Trump’s incendiary comments. Why shouldn’t they be? They tarnish everyone with a good heart.
I’ve had time to think over the past few days. On the one hand, yes, fear still lingers. I am not in a position to defend myself. I have limited mobility. I refuse, though, to carry a firearm. I won’t let Donald Trump and his followers do that to me. I am encouraged, however, by the kindness and mercy I see around me. America is a wonderful place to be and Insha’Allah (God willing) it will always be that way. This afternoon, for example, I volunteered with people of different faiths at the Phoenix office of Helping Hand for Relief and Development, an Islamic charity. Together, we packed used clothing, non-perishable food, and school supplies for Syrians displaced by the ongoing war. The boxes will be sent to a refugee camp in Lebanon. I was so proud to serve with my fellow Arizona citizens of different faiths and nationalities for a most worthy cause. Americans volunteer to serve their country every day at hospitals, schools, nursing homes, libraries, zoos, animal shelters, and many more places. So when Donald Trump brags that he will make America great again he obviously does not know America. Maybe he’s never looked. We are already a fabulous nation. That’s why we will not elect him as president nor do we need his help. As for me, I’m still afraid of Trump’s supporters but life goes on. I have faith in my community. I am surrounded by kind, caring and loving people in and outside the Islamic community. I have faith that America will reject Trump’s brand of hatred and not be swallowed by his deceit. I have faith in Allah to guide and protect me always.