- The Coast
- Submitted anonymously to Love the Way We Love, reprinted in full here as a Voice of the City.
To my new Syrian friends—who will never read this, as it is published at a time when you do not read English—thus it is addressed to greater Halifax, on your behalf.
Your families only moved into my building a month ago, but I already feel like I have known you all forever.
The last two years of my life, I have been swimming through the darkest depression I have ever experienced. The last few months became particularly suicidal.
Your warmth, community mindedness, caring manners, invitational way of life has turned my frown upside down. Before I was not even socializing with people I have known for years, and now I am back on my feet.
Daily you show love that rivals Christians (“join us or die”), peace that out shines any hippie fuck (who only deepen trauma with their "positive think or die" attitude), and tolerance that makes social justice warriors look like Nazis.
You treat me like a human being; despite that I am the antithesis of everything you are. I am filthy, fairly lazy, magic wielding, completely Haram and will probably never amount to anything more than that. But you don't let that influence how you are with me. Though you do gently joke I could smell less bad. Which is true. The socks need a change.
You are the first people I have met in a LONG TIME who can see into me; before we even know one another's names. The first question you asked me through a translator was about if my heart was alright, with genuine concern on your face. (YOU HAVE SURVIVED YEARS OF WAR, AND YOUR MAIN CONCERN WAS MY HEART.) You have helped put it back together so it will work right again.
You have allowed me to explore Islam, with no expectations of conversion, respectfully putting up with my ignorance while only a month prior to your arrival I had been repeatedly attacked/accosted by Christians for “having the wrong world view.”
You and your children have shown me just how similar we all are as humans, despite that we cannot speak the same languages. (Not yet; you are diligently studying English, and happily teaching me Arabic.). The ignorant bigots who comment online, and sometimes in real life, know only the opposite of the truth about you; therefore nothing but lies. They really have no idea what they are missing—if anything just in your food and various beverages, let alone your company and social grace.
You are a truly fluid people, with a keen appreciation for beauty and refinement. Your culture is incredible and intoxicating. Your sense of time immaculately weird. You are a wonderful world to explore and I regret nothing.
You have dragged me out of the dungeon, while Canadians had worked hard to keep me locked in there. You picked me up, dusted me off and have been a refreshing spring water for my mind.
I will never forget this experience and it will influence my navigation in life, for the rest of my life.
"It is easier to extend the hand in friendship, than it is to raise the sword in hostility."
"It is only one step outside of yourself...Two steps to the door of a friend...You are stopping at the first step."