Regardless of where you come from, Emil shares how we can bond through open communication. “If you really have open communication with someone, and talk about the specifics, you’ll find that at the end of the day you both want the same thing.”
This story was recorded in partnership with MALA and StoryCorps. This story was produced by Sydney Jarol through StoryCorps Chicago.
“Being born here, I was, I would, say probably more fortunate than most of my family. You know they come from Baghdad, Iraq with a Muslim heritage, but they were very liberal; they were very open to not only many cultures and religions, they were just open to many people so they were very accepting. It was never stressed that this is how a Muslim should act or this is how we should be. It was more so, this is what you have to do to be a good person. So what does it mean to be a good person?
Honesty, communication, which is, I think, probably the most crucial, respect what others think, respect how others feel. Don’t look down on someone because they feel or think or are a certain way. Those are things I learned at a young age from my mother and my father. The last six and a half, seven years, I’ve actually become more religious and a lot of it had to do with me meeting my fiancé. Just seeing how she was with her family, the morals and values they had were very very similar to the values that I kind of grew up with. And as we both grew closer to one another, I actually really started finding a lot of things that I liked about that faith as well.
The crux of every religion, I think, is very similar, so it’s kind of unfortunate that you see a lot of hatred among different religions or you see things on media that get very polarized, I mean especially for Muslims. A lot of the belief is that with all the things going on in the Middle East and the things that have happened with terrorism, there are a lot of ties that shouldn’t be there.
But I think if you have even a little bit of communication with someone and you talk to them about the specifics, you’ll find that at the end of the day, you both want the same things. There should never be a reason that a religion, a culture, anything like that should come between two people or just people in general caring for one another.”