Semantics (n) : the meaning, or an interpretation of the meaning, of a word, sign, sentence, etc.

I think often about the weight that words carry. Meticulously choosing the right words enables one to eloquently convey an accurate expression; a feeling, a message. With each message, comes a conveyed tone. 

Since the recent executive order from President Trump on immigration, I've been hearing a lot of noise. I have friends who are loudly screaming from the left and right, failing to comprehend that no matter how loud they scream, their message will not resonate if they themselves are unwilling to listen. I have friends who are silent, in fear of being ridiculed for their different beliefs. I have friends that are apologizing.... "for how our country is behaving" and "that this is happening to me".

And then there are the few willing to listen.

Our opinions are an accumulation of our experiences. There are so many factors that go into how one forms an opinion. How can one judge another's opinion before attempting to understand the needed context that developed that train of thought? How can one attempt to explain an opinion to the other side if you yourself are unwilling to budge or acknowledge that their thoughts, feelings, and beliefs are as equally valid as yours? How can you expect one to listen, but not hold yourself to the same standard? 

When I find myself in a complex situation, I often refer back to the defining characters, traits, values, qualities, experiences -- whatever you want to call them, that make me who I am. I try to understand my context, and analyze why I think the way that I do. It's been helpful.

It's been helpful in that I can effectively communicate in an open tone why I think the way that I do without sounding offensive, because I acknowledge that everyone's context is different than mine. It is also imperative we acknowledge that beliefs from a subset does not reflect the whole. 

I live in a pre-dominantly white state. I can't blame someone for not caring about other races, or fearing other religions when they might not have directly interacted with them or grown up caring about them. What I can do, is show them that there's nothing to be afraid one listens with screams and insults. No one likes to think that they are stupid, and most everyone thinks that everyone else is stupid. 

The issues at hand currently, to me, feel more like humanitarian issues than political issues. Regardless of our political beliefs and party affiliations, we are all of one race. We must refer back to our values, our context, to solve these problems. What are we really fighting? What does being an American mean? 

Sacrifice, gratitude, and equality: My mother sought freedom for her children -- for her daughter to have the opportunity to grow up in a country that did not see me in a different light because I was by chance born as a female. They say home is where the heart is. Leaving your home country for a better life is a sacrifice many of us here have not had to personally make, because our ancestors did before us. My brothers and I were taught never to take this freedom for granted, because we luckily won the freedom lottery. 

Resilience, determination, and the value of education: My father sought education. He told me stories of being 1 of 7 Iranian students living in a one bedroom apartment in order to save money; working part-time while attending school full-time as foreigners in a culture and country that was foreign to them. My uncle used to record classroom lectures, and translate them word for word with a dictionary. There is real work needed to pursue a dream, and it is achievable in the face of adversity. 

Opportunity, and hope for a better future: Knowing that there is opportunity for those who seek it, regardless of where you came from, instills hope. Hope that things can get better, as long as you're willing to put in the work. 

So here's to hope for humanity. I hope for a willingness to listen, for the ability to extinguish fear in light of understanding, and for the acknowledgement of different contexts as we strive to realize that we all bleed the same human blood.