The gift and curse of being from the Middle East

The gift of being from the Middle East – The 100s of ways we say I love you. You are welcome here. A language that births itself into the tongues of nations, tying people across continents, acquiescing like a reed to the flows of history, yet still fluting its aches and pains truthfully to its poetic melodies. The generosity, the hospitality. The family, the friends. The beauty amid chaos, the cross that greets the hilal like the kettle that chit-chatters to stove. The empathy with human suffering; to know what these people are fleeing from. To know the fear, the pain, the anger, the struggle to live, the struggle to forgive.

The curse of being from the Middle East – The 100s of ways we and the world say: I hate you. You are not welcome here. Being treated as a second rate citizen in your own country. Being treated as a second rate citizen in your adopted country. Being angry at the injustice committed in both, but labelled a traitor (own country) and terrorist (adopted country) if you act out on either. Having your own country bombed by your adopted country. Losing family and friends from your own country because of your adopted country. But friends from your adopted country refusing to acknowledge this hurt, this anger, could ever be tied to your adopted country’s policies. Losing family and friends from your own country because of your own country. But family and friends from your own country refusing to get past their hurt, their anger, their divisions to build a better country.

I swing, back and forth, back and forth, between gift and curse, and wonder:

Where will I finally land?

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