It’s now been a little over week since Carissa and I concluded our #MormonMuslimMom project, giving me time to reflect on what transpired over the last 2 months. We started this conversation really on a whim. I commented on a blog post of Carissa’s that I had found through a random Twitter link, because the headline caught my attention. We ended up beginning email correspondence and almost immediately wondered if we might do some type of collaborative project. I didn’t know much about Mormons and Carissa told me she didn’t know much about Muslims either. But we were both moms, both bloggers, and both interested – and so the project was born.
I have to admit the hardest part of this was putting myself into the shoes of someone who knows nothing about Islam and trying to give a brief and objective overview. I didn’t want to dive into scriptural reference or dogma, because I’ve found most people, including myself, tune out when that comes into play. Instead I wanted to share real stories, and examples from life that illustrate how we live.
Over the course of four weekends, we truly opened ourselves up to criticism and comment. Each week we took to our social media to answer questions from each other from our followers. What transpired was really great. Sure there were detractors, there always are, but by and large the response was positive. Then during the third week, Carissa’s post on Myths about Mormons found it’s way to an anti-Mormon message board. It also was shared on Facebook over 3,000 times and resulted in so much traffic my server crashed. I really want to always allow for multiple opinions to be presented but, I did have to close down the comments on that post once I was able to bring my website back online.
It was when I started to receive comment after comment that day that one of the lessons I learned during this project took hold. Before beginning, I had completely prepared myself for criticism and attacks. I fully expected it, so much so that when I was writing my posts I took extra care in the claims I made, and to ensure my opinions were presented as just that. Each week I waited for the deluge. But, instead it happened to Carissa. When I approved comments I put myself in her shoes, and didn’t want to subject her and her beliefs to unwarranted, rude, or cruel attack. Yes, you can disagree, but there’s a way to do it tastefully and a way to be tacky. As the comment storm went on and as I, perhaps foolishly, visited one of the sites where a majority of the comments came from I felt so sad. I was ready for people to attack me, but I wasn’t ready for them to attack my new friend. I’ve faced it before, I knew what to expect, I knew what to ignore, how to handle it, how to not let it break me down. But I never realized that someone else might experience it too.
I learned so much from Carissa, things about how similar our two faiths are. How most people, no matter their faith, have the same common desires and dreams. But the lesson that’s going to stick with me the most is to stop feeling like a victim. Are Muslims targeted and maligned in the United States? Absolutely. Do people lack knowledge about who we are and what our faith is? Of course. But guess what, we’re not alone. So even though my heart ached for the negativity that Carissa faced, part of it was at peace too. Because it was in that moment I realized there isn’t anything wrong with who I am and what I believe. The problem lies within the people who choose not to learn, to understand, and live with such negativity they can’t see past the labels. No matter what, everyone will face others who don’t understand their religion, their culture, their skin color. There’s no need to play the victim, instead face every day and every interaction as a possibility to do good.
I am so glad we were able to do this, and I hope you’ve enjoyed it too.
What have you learned over the past few weeks? Any memories that particularly stick out?