“What gives you #TangibleHope in the world today? How do your values and/or belief systems come into conversation with this #TangibleHope?
Anissa Abdel-Jelil, interfaith activist, artist, and URI North America Communications and Outreach Coordinator responds:
For as long as I can remember, my father would complete every sentence I said with the phrase “inshallah,” reminding me that everything I planned to do would get done with a little help from Allah – that is, if God willed it to happen.
I would say things like “I’m going to the store.” And he would say “Ghouli inshallah” (Say inshallah). “My flight gets in at 10 p.m.” And he would say “Ghouli inshallah.” It didn’t matter how big or small of a plan I was making, my father would tell me to say inshallah (God willing.)
So, when tragedy or struggles come, not only do I look for the helpers, as Mr. Rogers’ mother suggests, but I look for potential partners. I ask, “Who can I team up with to get the job done?”
For some, referencing the Divine in every sentence you say is a foreign concept or doesn’t resonate with their worldview. For me, it was a constant exercise in humility and a reminder that I have a partner with me at all times during my social change work – and that partner is Allah. So, when tragedy or struggles come, not only do I look for the helpers, as Mr. Rogers’ mother suggests, but I look for potential partners. I ask, “Who can I team up with to get the job done?”
Over the course of the past few weeks, hate crimes against marginalized groups have increased, natural disasters have devastated communities, and some law enforcement officers have not been held accountable for the violence they have inflicted on civilians. Needless to say there are enough injustices to leave us permanently frustrated and devastated. However, in those same weeks, I’ve witnessed strangers come together in person and online to build nonviolent coalitions to support those who are at the frontline of many of the social justice movements taking place in the United States.
In my experience, if I choose to see them, the helpers are out there and, if I look closer, I notice they’re working together.
Friends and acquaintances have invited me to join capacity-building listservs, where folks share everything from best practices for effective community organizing to their own professional legal and health advice. It seems as though every scroll through Facebook introduces me to another crowdfunding campaign for an important cause, such as securing supplies for the water protectors that continue to camp at Standing Rock during the Winter and supporting those who were deeply affected by the fire in Oakland this past weekend. In my experience, if I choose to see them, the helpers are out there and, if I look closer, I notice they’re working together.
Knowing that there are people out there whose skills complement mine and whose gifts are necessary to getting the job done gives me #TangibleHope. It teaches me that the social change necessary to make our communities healthier, happier and more just, can only be fostered in community and in partnership.
Anissa Abdel-Jelil is the URI North America Communications and Outreach Coordinator. Her international and interfaith upbringing, paired with her academic journey, opened her eyes to the community-based peacebuilding work taking place all over the world and introducing her URI’s interfaith grassroots network. Based out of the San Francisco Bay Area, Anissa uses art as a tool for advocating for social justice.
Every Tuesday, the #TangibleHope Diaries series features responses from North American grassroots peacebuilders on what gives them tangible hope in the world today! Learn more here.