My name is Mayar Tahina. I am a member of one of the refugee families here in the Valley. I have a few words to say describing the world and its struggles and also describing some of the struggles that come with both adopting and adjusting to a new culture. The purpose of me speaking is to set an example of how a survivor would see the world after going through a war. Will that make him violent or a peace seeker?
I started my speech with 'dear humans' because I want so badly to emphasize that we are humans regardless of our differences. I'm here in Canada because of a war that messed up my country, my people, my family, my childhood and my life for a while. The cause of most wars is misunderstanding and misconception of each other. We are humans regardless of our religion, our color, our gender and regardless of our nationalities. The reason we are all in the same planet because we are all the same. We sometimes hypothetically talk about aliens, but the reason that they are not on earth is because they are different. They don't belong to us. We belong to each other.
Newcomers are struggling with so many different things. One of them is the language and that is a real hardship. Although we see that Canada is a very respectful country, and that is the majority, but there is still the minority harassing and passing laws like Quebec. No one can deny that there are many people who hate the existence of newcomers, especially Muslims. That is a real concern for every single refugee breathing in this land.
I have faced some racism, but I have dealt with that fortunately. Some of the words that have been said to me include 'go back home' or ‘do not bring the religion that destroyed your country to our country.’
My answer was what religion caused World War II or even World War I. Or what religion caused the American Civil War? There is no religion that has asked for violence or war. Religions are sets of rules sent by God to humans in order to live peacefully, but one thing making them very harmful is ignorance.
Those of us on this earth have no choice where we are born. Syria was where I happened to be born and you were born in Canada. I like to think that our existence on this earth is a school. When a new year comes along and students arrive at the class, everyone picks a chair. But then the teacher decides this is table one and this is table two and so on. But someday one student will sit in a different chair, so he will asked, for example, 'why are you here. You are table one and this is table two?' Then he will say, 'my table is not stable, but I believe this is my class regardless.'
I believe this is my planet regardless. We are humans living on one earth, borders do not define us. Our hearts do. You might own your house, but not the entire country. If someone says go home, say, ‘this is my planet, I am home.’
Lemon is very healthy, but too much can kill you. I mean extremism with this metaphor. Moderation should be the theme of our existence on this earth.
Once we delete the title then we basically start to be paragraphs fighting each other to get to the top and be the introduction. We will all fail because we all have the same power. Fighting drains our blood, lives and the future needlessly.
If asked how to help newcomers, remember I am just 19 years old and want to offer one piece of advice. Yes, you can help people by befriending them and with a significant effort they will be a solid part of this community. Then they will have fewer struggles as newcomers. They need friends, they need help with the language and they need to feel welcome, however, that is not our main target, those newcomers are struggling because of a war. Our bigger mission as humans is how to avoid wars. To repeat, wars are the result of misunderstanding and ignorance, so our mission and way to help is to teach our children.
We all love, respect, have hobbies, homes, siblings, friends, struggles and hopes. We are all the same and if we think of each other as humans first we will never have a war again. Our children are the future of this world, so teach them how to see others properly and how to teach the next generation the same.
Extremists prove the old saying that everyone is good unless we teach them how to be bad. Do you know why Isis is located in the east of Syria and west of Iraq? Because their ideologies only see the light with ignorance. People from these two regions are not educated, they do not know how to read or write their names. Would you think they are able to read or understand the Koran? Absolutely not, so Isis uses them and teaches them a different perspective that benefits their ideology. So these people started to do bad things because they think it is the way to heaven.
Do I blame them? I certainly do not. I blame the government that did not educate them. I blame the United Nations who did not educate them. I blame the Superpowers who daily build nuclear warheads and aren't able to educate ignorant people. I blame you and myself who can speak and are not.
We need to change our world. There will be no magical power coming to save us and change this world for us. So get your voice out there because I believe that in the horizon there is room for every voice. And I believe that in every heart there is room for forgiveness. So shall we dream?
(Editor’s Note: Mayar Tahina, who is a second-year student at Acadia University, expressed his viewpoint at the recent Annapolis Valley Honour Choir concerts entitled Shall We Dream. The Tahina family is shown in a file photo from when they arrived in Wolfville)