May 24, 2011
Like many of you, I consider myself to be a global citizen. While this forum is dedicated to to the diversity of other cultures and the challenging of all of our ethnocentric tendencies, I think it is proper to point out that many international quality of life statistics show that Canada is very possibly one of the most civil and balanced countries in the world. My wife and I are very honored to call ourselves Canadian. I've been in Ottawa for 4 years, although I'm orginally from the U. S. Blind nationalism is not good, but Canada is trying to do so much for immigrants and this is our way of giving back to such a welcoming and noble land that we now call home! It is our desire that emigres would embrace the vision and strong ideals of Canadians and realize that your success is very important to our nation's future. With the help of caring locals, newcomers can build bridges that help them embrace their own contribution to an even greater Canada.
I've taken an interest in many serious issues of life, approaching them from a lay-jounalist's perspective. I ran this academic forum in Washington DC, and as a result I hosted many very learned and interesting people from varying international perspectives. I hope to publish some of these experiences in the future in the form of an OIC blog, though I am hardly a gifted writer. This work will draw from the speakers this forum has hosted over the years. Subjects will include the lighthearted, and sometimes irreverent political, philosophical & spiritual views. This forum has also focused on Islam, Judaism, Hinduism and Atheism, and has had the pleasure of hosting the' Assistant to the Dali Lama' and 'First Nations' leaders. My personal research has been on the varying interpretations of the historical Jesus, and how root manuscripts about him came about. I also intend to write about the folks from across the globe who have told me their stories of 'near death experiences'.
I think we all have a story, and for the most part I think I have gleemed from those of far more challenging lives than myself. I just spoke to a man here who lost his entire family in Iraq. He barely speaks English. As is the case with many new immigrants, his character and heart were humble, positive, and full of faith- A faith and an attitude I rarely display. He was just extremely grateful to be alive, and to have a new life in Canada. These people are all around us, and it really does not take much to be a tremendous asset for them. A warm hello and invite for dinner can change the image of a nation. I only hope that somehow my story can somehow be meshed with theirs, in a positive way. Anyone who has traveled knows the genuine hospitality that people from challenged or impoverished nations often show to the visitor. Their life can be tough, and yet we often leave their lands thinking that they somehow have managed to get it right, as to what is truly important in life.
I would hope in some small way OIC challenges all of us to think and care for others beyond our comfort zone. This forum is not looking for numbers but a diverse quality of open minded thinkers. Yes. I have also learned that intellectual arrogance can be just as 'closeminded' as those from more traditional religious convictions. There is something ironicly tragic about a sinical intellect with no hope today or beyond the grave. This objective forum aspires to learn something from all sides, but it challenges us to get out of our man made boxes, and to to see that there are many colors in the rainbow. At a minimum, this attitudes is a must if we want to truly grow in our understanding and appreciation of one another. I can assure you that there is tremendous value for those who attend these monthly forums with a heart to learn and to reach out to the newcomer to our land, no matter what the subject may be. There is an extremely unique ambiance, and if I can offer anything. this is it.
Leading this forum is a great priviledge. Inspired by the profiles already here on meetup. I have lived/ traveled in numerous countries in Europe including Holland, the USSR, Hungary, Turkey, Scandinavia,& PalIsrael, Asia, Mexico, Caribbean & the US.
This was special for no other reason than the dynamic diversity and positive faith of the folks that came. Everyone wa gracious towards others. and took the time to listen. I hope it allowed us to think more seriously about the holiday in a way that brings real light into our lives. You folks certainly did that for my family and I this evening. :)