Ahmed's Clock and My Renewed Faith in Humanity

Antique clock detail stylized with narrow depth of field
Antique clock detail stylized with narrow depth of field

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I'm an American-Muslim, or Muslim-American.

You've got to be careful how you order your adjectives and nouns--sometimes folks get offended.

I converted to Islam when I was 18, after losing my parents and coming face-to-face with my own mortality. Islam has been my solace, my pillar, my mainstay ever since.

That is, perhaps, a story better left for another time though.

I mention all of that not in any attempt at missionary'ing; no, I just want to be honest about what's framing my thoughts on young Ahmed Mohamed and his home made clock.

I woke up this morning to a bevy of notifications concerning his arrest. Our community is close like that, I'm from New Orleans, he's from Irving, Texas, but word travels fast when you're less than 1% of the population. My heart sank of course, but I wasn't surprised.

This kind of thing happens on a daily basis.

Little things we might call micro-aggressions if they didn't so often end in emergency rooms and cemeteries.

When you're a Muslim in 2015, you live in constant anticipation of the coming collapse of all civilization. That is not an apocalyptic observation, not a thought rooted in theology, rather it is a fear informed by the reality that is the state of the Muslim ummah--the great Islamic family we all supposedly belong to.

What I'm trying to say is, we're not very popular--and we haven't been doing ourselves any favors.

So, no, I wasn't surprised that a young brown boy named Ahmed might wind up in cuffs over a homemade science project.

As a Muslim, I was horrified; as an American, I was humiliated.

At first blush Ahmed's situation just served as further confirmation that, should Donald Trump win the Presidency, I ought to start looking for property in Central America. Not, mind you, out of a lack of patriotism, but out of fear for my friends and family.

I mean, honestly, get your shit together Texas. If a 14-year-old's handmade clock can strike fear in the hearts of grown adults and provoke the police powers of the world's 10th largest economy--ensconced with in the world's first most powerful nation--then the terrorists are definitely winning.

But then, the twist--and now might be a good time to YouTube Lee Greenwood's God Bless the U.S.A.

As the day wore on an #IStandWithAhmed went more and more viral, as folks at MIT, NASA, astronaut Chris Hadfield (I know he's Canadian), Mark Zuckerburg, and others all tweeted in to lend their support, I sensed a sea-change, the stirring of something I haven't felt in a long time...optimism began to take root in my own heart.

By the time the Big O himself jumped in to offer his invitation to the White House I was damn near overwhelmed, I had honest-to-Allah tears in my eyes.

The immediate, unequivocal, wave of love Ahmed evoked has rekindled my flagging faith in humanity.

I love you guys, all of you.

It, apparently, takes a little bit of empathy and just a little understanding and the forces of goodness might from time-to-time beat fear and hatred. I wish I could bottle this impulse, this outbreak of sanity, and ship it all around the world.

Until then, everyone gather round. In one voice now;
I'M PROUD TO BE AN AMERICAN, GOD BLESS THE RED, WHITE, AND BLUE!