Sarah Joseph on Pause for Thought
Issue 84 September 2011
Sarah Joseph appeared on The Chris Evans Breakfast for her Pause for Thought. Her theme this week was "Them and Us" after 9/11.
When I became a Muslim 23 years ago I went from being “us” to “them”; from “we” to “they”. It was almost an overnight change. It was even a change within my family. It was a difficult time. As I began to engage with Muslims, I soon realised that whilst I was “us” and “we” from a faith perspective; I was “them” and “they” from the perspective of my race and culture.
I resented these things at first. I felt cast out by those who were my own; at the same time I didn’t feel totally accepted by my new faith practitioners.
After some time however I turned things around within myself. I began to see the beauty of being “us” and “them” simultaneously. I could explain them to us, and us to them. Sometimes, at lectures I would give, people would be confused – “when you say ‘us’ which ‘us’ are you talking about?” – they would ask. “The human ‘us’” - I would often reply.
Then 9/11 happened. I was cast into the “they” of the abyss by kind and rational people. It was a “they” which was guilty by association. I tried so hard to explain that I belonged to the “us” of humans who were outraged and horrified by the slaughter. I tried so hard to explain that the “them” in the equation were murderers not people of faith; madmen not people who knew the love and mercy of God.
But the die was set. A decade later the “us” and “them” mentality has got even worse. We are locked into our groups, our tribes, unable to see that in them is us.
For me – I belong to the human race. I’ve not met a human who did not want to live a life of dignity, stability and peace. So let us humans get our act together. Let’s stop pointing the fingers at all of “them” who must be to blame for the bad in the world. We have a lot of work to do to make this world one that we can all share in peace.