Jordan. It was still in its infancy, a mere 40 or so years old, and I was still a child.
One day, as I walked out of my home in the city, I found myself staring at a local grocery shop, owned by a neighbor and conveniently located in his garage. I stood staring at a beautiful rose that crept out of a thick vine in the fence that shielded that store.
I wanted that rose, and so I reached out and grabbed it, and yanked it off of its thorny stem. It wasn’t the thorns that gave me a wound or a scar, but rather the man that came out of the store in a violent rage of scold that was about to ensue.
After what you can imagine was a good telling off, the man stared at me and exclaimed, “Do you not fear God? Is it right to take something that is not yours? Are you not a good Muslim?”
I stared at the man with round teary eyes and said, “No sir, I’m a Christian.”
The man looked taken a back for a moment, as if he was expecting a unified singular reply, and simply said, “Just go home.”
Looking back at this story, more than 17 years ago, I have no idea what it means. I don’t know what hidden symbolism is in that story, and I don’t want to know. Because I don’t know what the man was thinking, or what he was feeling, or the extent of his knowledge of the 3% Christian population in a overwhelmingly Muslim country. But what I do know is that it was only yesterday that I remembered this very story.
Culture, heritage, tradition, nationalism, patriotism, religion – these are words that often like to confuse people, and what I find is that it could be simplified into one phrase; a sense of belonging.
During dialogue sessions at Camp, I found myself opening up about personal things I have never discussed with a group of people that I only begun to know. I find myself reflecting on those moments now.
I was born and bred in Jordan, I spent the first 18 years of my life there, and then I pursued a higher education in England, where I spent the following three years of my life transitioning into adulthood. A defining three years they were, an amazing three years, and a confusing three years.
Throughout my life, my parents made it a point that I see the world around me, and understand the range of cultures and people that walk this earth, and so from the Middle East to America, and from America to Europe, and from Europe to Australia, I now know one thing; that I don’t belong.
I don’t belong to one country or one faith, I don’t belong to one religion or one ideology, I don’t belong to this group of friends or that group of people, I belong to all of them.
I am a man of both the arts and the sciences, and your brain contains the ability to access both, and to be both.
God is often described as light. Light, in science, was once thought to have one nature, a wave. In recent discovery, they found that light can also exist in another nature, a particle.
And so light has a duality, light can be two things, where other things cannot. If I have learned anything from my life, it is that I pave my own road with the light that is inside.