Friday, September 12, 2008

Firestarter

UPDATE: This post was written about 12 hours before the breaking news United States Armed Forces have crossed Pakistani borders, without the permission of the Pakistani government, in pursuit of suspected terrorists.  I was asked by my cousin in Pakistan this morning, "Don't people in America care about what's happening?"  Of course we do.  We do, right?

You can read more about it in this article from the Washington Post. 

Yesterday was September 11th.  

Two of the most prolific bloggers in my Google reader, Avitable and Miss Britt, who I've adopted as my blogging mama and papa without their express permission, wrote wonderful posts on the topic. (BTW, making Avitable one's blog papa could be considered extremely creepy).  

I commented profusely on Avitable's blog and stirred up a bit of firestorm which is totally uncharacteristic of me, ha ha.  Go check it out by clicking on his name up there, but if you're at work, be advised that the comments are profanity laden.

Of course, the one person I challenged had to be a United States Marine.  Obviously, I didn't know that at the time.

And, of course, he was very upset about my use of the words "taking action" with regards to the protection of this nation's freedom.  Because he's been all over the world taking action and I've been sitting here in the AC of my suburban home.  I came off as sarcastic, which again is very uncharacteristic of me, so I suppose that fueled his contempt for my comments.  

Truth be told, I understood his point of view, and I offered a reasonable apology.   In the end, I think peace was established through some discreet intervention on the part of Avitable.  

What many people may not know is that when Mrs. Faiqa was once Miss Faiqa, she walked into the United States Marine Corps Recruiting Office in Daytona Beach, Florida at the age of eighteen and signed a recruitment form.  

Yes, I actually signed up to join the United States Marine Corps.  

I took the oath, they didn't ask and I didn't tell (nothing to tell), I did the push ups, I ran the miles, and I took the joke of  a literacy test that all enlistees must take.  

On the day that I went to Jacksonville for my physical, in the multitudes of young people there, I was the only woman, the only Muslim and the only full blooded person of Asian descent present for enlistment in the Marine Corps.    

At the end of the day, I was informed that I had been disqualified during the physical examination because I have an elongated retina which made me susceptible to retinal detachment should I experience any severe trauma to the head.  Apparently, Marines get hit in the head, a lot. 

When I was eighteen, I thought the best way to serve my country was to become one of the warriors that protected it.  My parents, my teachers, my family and my friends thought I was an idiot for "throwing my life away," but I didn't care.  At that time in my life, I believed that military service would be the best expression of my dedication to the service of this nation.

My disqualification, though, afforded me the opportunity to realize that everyone is meant to serve their cause in a different way.  

I serve my country by being informed.  

I serve my country by educating myself regarding the freedoms that have been bestowed upon me by the Constitution of the United States.  
 
I serve my country by yelling, stomping my feet in my living room (or the living rooms of other people) and blogging on the Internet when I see those freedoms being transgressed or upheld.
  
I serve my country by showing the world that I am unafraid of identifying myself as a Muslim, despite repeated implications from many of my compatriots and elected politicians that this nation is at war not only with Iraq and Afghanistan, but with Islam itself.

I serve my country whenever I intentionally answer "American," no hyphen, to the questions aimed at determining my ethnic origins.  

Make no mistake, I am not equating my level of service with people who are getting shot at on the other side of the world.  

I'm just saying that we all serve within the parameters of our capabilities, and many of us act with the noblest of intentions.  These services and actions are not any less of a contribution to the greatness of our nation.

Whenever I see a banner that reads, "Support Our Troops," I feel a strange twinge in my heart. I have always supported our troops, well before 9/11, well before it was deemed fashionable by the media and political pundits.  

I'm offended by the conflation of the support of our troops with our current conflict.  After all, I should be able to voice my opposition to foreign policy without having my support of our military even coming up for discussion.    

I fight for this country every day with my words.  And while I am not as prolific as many others, there are people who give my words some consideration.  

I have been to various continents and bravely faced up to the criticisms that others have for this country, and I have defended what was right, just and good about us.  

I do not impose, I do not require agreement, but I will continue to expose the goodness of America to the people of this planet as much as I can.  

And there is much about us that is good, just and right.

Finally, I serve by finding and fostering the goodness within America.  I offer myself as an example of how this nation, at it very best, can be diverse, humane, tolerant and conscious.  

This is the highest and best form of service that I can offer.

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7 Comments:

Blogger Miss Britt said...

No. Wait. This nation is only at war with "extreme" Islam, and therefore you should not be offended AT ALL.

Oh. Sorry. My eyes just rolled out of my head as I was writing that.

Friday, 12 September, 2008  
Blogger Crys said...

i happened to be privy to the melee in which you were involved on Avi's blog. may i just say you handled yourself with supreme grace and tact?

it was a fine fine example on your part of productive, generous and polite discourse.

well done.

Friday, 12 September, 2008  
Blogger sybil law said...

And you are serving it very, very well.

I was surprised at the sheer venom that Marine threw at you. I mean, I understood what both of you were saying...
I remember some recruitment guy absolutely hounding me to get me to sign up for the Army. He even came to my house! I was completely uninterested at the time. I have a lot of respect for people that age (18) that actually think of serving their country.

Friday, 12 September, 2008  
Blogger Faiqa said...

Britt: Something tells me that foreign policy advisors to our president wouldn't know the difference between an Islamic extremist and a guy with a beard that loves to snowboard during blizzards (get it, "extreme," like extreme sports? I'm so clever sometimes it's scary).

crys: I think you're the first person who has ever said that I am tactful and gracious. Sigh ::big hug::

sybil law: I finally figured out what HNT means. No thanks to you ignoring my repeated hounding on Twitter for an answer. Hee hee, wink.

Friday, 12 September, 2008  
Blogger Avitable said...

Come sit on daddy's knee.


HAHAHAHAH!

I'm creeping myself out just by writing that.

Anyways, great post, as usual. Personally, I'd never try out for our military, and if there was a draft, I'd evade it. I don't have the mentality to take orders, especially if I'm uninformed, and that would definitely be exacerbated in the military.

Friday, 12 September, 2008  
Blogger yasmine said...

came across your weblog via your comment(s) over at sepiamutiny.

what a beautiful, thought-provoking post. thank you for this, faiqa.

i just clicked through miss britt's post and avitable's as well, based on your recommendation. and am echoing a previous commenter in saying you definitely handled yourself with grace in avitable's comment thread. a smashing HIGHFIVE to you!

Sunday, 14 September, 2008  
Blogger Faiqa said...

avitable: creep.

yasmine: smashing high five back at you!! thanks so much for clicking over and for your kind compliments. Looking forward to hearing more from you, soon.

Sunday, 14 September, 2008  

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