Saturday, November 14, 2015

Koshari, Chéri

Andrew made a lovely Lebanese dinner tonight: hummus, mana'eesh (topped with za'atar), and falafel. He's already planning on making zeit wa za'atar for dinner on Monday, but if he can find fava beans so he can make ful to go with it, "otherwise I'm making koshari," he said.

So while I was loading the dishes I started singing, "Koshari-shari! Whatever will be, will be! The future's not ours to see. Koshari-shari!"

Because I'm a nerd.

The more I sang it—because I consider children shrieking with laughter and saying, "Mom, what are you singing!?" to be calls for an encore (and thus sang it several times because I don't actually know much more of the song...Will I be pretty? Will I be rich?)—the more it started sounding like koshari, chéri.

I guess French—France—Paris—has been on my mind. But not just France.

My mind has been very busy lately.

In December 1980, President Spencer W. Kimball published an article in The Ensign about keeping a journal. In January 1981 my grandpa opened a notebook and at the very top of the very first page he wrote, "Our prophet Spencer W. Kimball asked each of us to keep a daily journal." He kept a record for the next several years—not a daily record but a record nonetheless. This simple action expressed his testimony of the gospel quite clearly to me.

Recently my facebook feed has been ablaze with chatter about the change in church policy regarding the baptism of children living with parents in a same-gender relationship (ie. it shouldn't happen). Based on the clarification of the policy, the original wording wasn't really well-written. Still, it wasn't exactly intended for public consumption—at least, not right away—it was leaked.

(Side note: This afternoon Benjamin came into the house crying, "Miriam leaked my secret!" and I was quite puzzled about his choice of words because he's three and he's talking about "leaked" secrets. What?! But now I'm thinking that perhaps we discussed the word leaked at the dinner table some point in the past two weeks, so maybe it makes sense. The secret, in case you're wondering, is that she's a witch. Not in real life. Just in the game. But she said, "I know I'm a witch!" and now everybody knows and it was Benjamin's secret and the world is over. Clearly.)

Leaked or not, though, it wasn't worded in a way that spoke comfort and peace. Those who were initially repulsed by the policy were confused and panicky. Those who initially agreed with the policy became a little overzealous and haughty. It was hard—and ridiculous—to watch my own people raising their pitchforks at each other.

"Anyone in good standing before the Lord would accept this document," said one.

"How can this policy be from God?" asked another.

"If you don't like this policy then leave," said another.

"Jesus said love everyone," reminded another.

"This will separate the wheat from the tares," snarked someone else.

There was plenty of name-calling and stone-throwing and little bit of pitting of prophet against prophet. It was very sad to witness. And yet, I feel like things have worked out alright.

The policy was clarified, which answered a lot of (valid) questions and helped put a lot of minds at ease. Do some still have questions? Perhaps. But I think it would be best if we reserved judgement while they wrestle with those questions—whether they wrestle openly or privately—because this isn't the only thing God cares about. It's easy to see faults in others and want to stone them for it; it's harder to look inward to find where you are falling short.

"Anyone in good standing before the Lord would..." do so many things in addition to/besides accepting this document. Are we all doing all the things? Certainly not. We're all living in glass houses and should therefore avoid throwing stones.

Like, for example, a couple of months ago I shared something (on facebook) about donating money to Syrian refugees because Google was doubling donations for the day. I thought it was a good idea because...helping people. But I got trounced on a little bit because we shouldn't be helping those people get anywhere. Traitors! Terrorists! Pure evil! Every last one!

I explained as kindly as I could that I didn't agree with a single word, that these people were fleeing the evilness in their country, that these people needed help, that these people are not "those" people—these people are just people. They are humans. And we are obligated to relieve their suffering.

I was relieved when the church released an official statement urging church members to donate to the refugee crisis so that I wouldn't have to have silly arguments with people who should, in my opinion, be the most willing to help—not just their own, but anybody.

With the most recent happenings in Paris, it seems I can't use the argument of "show me one valid news article about a refugee being an active terrorist" anymore since a Syrian passport (that was registered at a refugee camp in Greece this past October) was found on/around the body of one of the suicide bombers, though they're still trying to verify if it actually was the Syrian indicated on the passport or whether the passport was stolen or whatever.

Still. That's one. One in a million. But bad apples are everywhere and I refuse to blame the millions of innocents because of the few bad apples. Big of me to say, considering I'm not French.

I'm sure the French are reeling.

I'm not French. And yet I'm familiar with the feeling of reeling. 9/11 wasn't so long ago for me (though my children already think it's something that happened in the "olden days"). The feeling of being attacked is...suffocating...even if the attack happened thousands of miles away from you.

It's interesting to me, the effect that France being attacked has had on my peers here. Now they are afraid. My entire facebook feed is bleeding blue and white and red. They really are feeling that fear, that pain. They, too, know what it feels like to be attacked (9/11 wasn't so long ago for them, either).

What is so different about this event that people here are all over it?

I think it's the same reason the image of Alan Kurdi lying lifeless on the beach was such a call to arms. We can relate to one child lying on the beach the same way we can relate to a country we have close ties to. To (loosely) quote Brooke Gladstone, "...we are more moved to help when we see the image of one desperate [country]. That urge shrivels when we’re confronted by two or three or more. And we are affected all the more when that [country] looks like us."

Beirut was attacked the day before Paris and got little media attention because, as I flippantly remarked to Andrew, "It's Lebanon." Much too other to garner much of a media storm. Something bad happened in one of those Middle Eastern countries...again.

(On that note, there was another school shooting on Friday...but "It's America.")

Should we have paid attention before Alan Kurdi? Definitely.

Should we have paid attention before Paris? Definitely.

Is it wrong that the world—the rest of the world, I mean—is looking now? Certainly not.

But still I wish there was no other. I wish we could some how see that it's not us versus them. It's just us.

Whatever will be, will be, and whenever whatever it is that happens, wherever it happens, I hope that I can do my part to "succor the weak, lift up the hands which hang down, and strengthen the feeble knees," whoever it may be that needs the succouring.

PS. My mom pointed out that I started out talking about my grandpa. And then I jumped off the tracks. I think the point I was going for is that actions speak louder than words.


  1. I'm confused as to why everyone keeps saying the church policy was "leaked." The first KSL news I read on it almost 2 weeks ago says that the announcement was made by an official church news representative... This implies it wasn't "leaked" at all, it's just that we as everyday members of the church don't see the handbook 1 very often so people think it was some kind of big secret change in policy. The fact that the brethren were also ready to send out letters clarifying what was going on and had Elder Christofferson on stand-by to do the news conference also suggests that they were quite prepared for the massive yelp that happened.

  2. I find peace reading your posts! You are doing a great good. Thank you! Prompted me to put a sign on our window with the French Flag and a note that says "Paris is in our Prayers". I was just thinking of this recently - how shocked I was on 9.11 and how they must be shocked as well. This made me feel like Paris was closer than it is. I love how the Holy Ghost can put things into perspective for us to help others. A prayer goes a long way.