Blog Your Blessings: Batman Speaks of Ramadan

Recently I read an op-ed piece in the News-Times of Danbury, Connecticut, about education in Connecticut that pointed out that the education gap between rich and poor in Connecticut has not changed over the past 30 years despite the billions of dollars that have been spent on closing this gap. The writer of the column, a newpaper editor from somewhere East of the River, blamed the parents of inner-city (read: poor) children for the problem. They are single parents bereft of the values that forge decent, thinking citizens from the raw flesh of reckless passion. Oh, those nasty poor people and their violence and crime and illicit sex and drugs....

It's so easy to blame the poor people. It's also easy to forget that the best drugs around are to be had in the upscale suburban schools. I'm thinking of Pomperaugh High School in Southbury and Newtown High School. But it's rude to drop names. So let's just say the best drugs are in the best schools. And the violence in schools? Columbine was no ghetto school.  We in the ghetto would like to point out that our criminal element drops out of school to go commit crime; the crimes are not committed in the classroom. Because poverty sucks. Violence in education is not our problem.

But I'm getting away from my point that it's so easy to blame the poor folk for what ails them. They lack the vocabulary to fight back. So they don't. And that leaves the fat cat fools of the world--I'm not dropping names, so I will leave Glenn Back and Sarah Palin out of this--feeling smug and happy that they can blame the poor for the sins of the world and move on in self-righteous glory. 

They don't see kids from all over the world landing--or being placed by The System--in our cities to learn a new language, navigate a new culture, live a new life. 

They don't know Batman.

He was my summer school student, and he is in one of my classes now. He is from Kurdistan, and he is Muslim. 

Today at the end of class and before lunch, he told us he won't be in school tomorrow because it is the close of Ramadan, and he will be marking the holiday with his family. The fast is over. 

I took a few minutes to let him tell his story. I had read the local paper before I left home this morning, and the foreign news page was loaded with anti-Muslim stories as we approach the anniversary of 9/11. The paper was brimming with hatred, and I was sick from it. So I let Batman talk. 

He explained that the end of Ramadan meant the end of the fast that Muslim people undergo to better understand the experience of poor people. They live the hunger. He said the Muslim people believe in taking care of the poor, and that during Ramadan his mosque raised more than $10,000 to help the people of Pakistan, who have been ravaged by recent flooding.

I remarked that aid to Pakistan from the world had been slow because of politics, and people aren't sure whose side Pakistan is on. As a result, they don't give so much, forgetting that the people who are suffering are human beings.

I asked Batman what brought him to the US. "My parents, Miss. Because even though the capture of Saddam Hussein meant freedom for the Kurdish people, there are still many problems, and it wasn't safe, so we came here."

Batman's classmates listened to him with respect. Some wanted him to know they already knew what Ramadan is, that they were not strangers. 

All day I have been thinking of the forces and circumstances that made the United States of America possible to this child and how this child's free and welcome speech educated his peers about a war situation no number of adults could explain to them. 

I am humbled by this child and by all those men and women who have worked faithfully in the name of the freedom I cherish and pledge allegiance to every morning. I am grateful to see that freedom at work. I am grateful to live in a place--a paradise--the haters with the big names and the money know nothing about. America is worth the trouble. Just look at this child.

Comments

  1. how this child's free and welcome speech educated his peers about a war situation no number of adults could explain to them. >>> it's really when we get to hear those stories behind the ones on the news that counts.

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  2. This post should be in every paper in America!




    Warm Aloha from Waikiki

    Comfort Spiral

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  3. I agree with Cloudia, this should be in every paper in the US! I am so tired of the hatred, the anger, the fear of Muslims and what a wonderful thing you have done for your students! Fantastic, Sandy! Thank you for all that you do for our children and for our country. Have a great weekend!

    Sylvia

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  4. It is ironic that you are so attuned to poor people. Your observation that their lack of vocabulary explains a lot about their silence struck me as especially accurate. The irony is that you have such sensitivity to the problem while you are such a rich person yourself. Oh, maybe not rich in terms of money, but look at your classroom experiences. You are enriched every time one of these kids opens his mouth, and you pass it on in wonderful clarity to the rest of us. And don't worry: the Lord wasn't talking about that kind of richness when he talked about how hard it is for a rich man to enter the kingdom of Heaven!

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  5. I remember Batman!

    I no longer listen to the news. I no longer read any of the papers, except on rare occasions. Because it's no longer News. It's all become Op-Ed, and all of it is inflammatory, biased and partisan. It is full of hatred and intolerance. It lacks even a modicum of compassion and encouragement. It does nothing to enrich my life. So I say to it all, "No, thank you".

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  6. I often wonder what would happen if all visual communication and audio communication devices were shut down for just a week. I think the world would be improved.

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  7. Very interesting story, with a lot of reflection and depth, touching the elusive issue of understanding before judging.
    I must say I do love his name.;))
    Have a lovely Friday,
    xo

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  8. I love that you let Batman share his story...his experiences with the class. This helps in so many ways!!
    My hubby is a news junkie. Me, on the other hand, could do without it. I know they say it is good to keep abreast of current events. But it is all so political and biased!! It usually ends up just making me mad!
    Thanks for sharing your wonderful teaching experiences.
    Hugs
    SueAnn

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  9. well written, it needs to be in a newspaper somewhere...

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  10. Sandy what a sweet post! Yes, I'm afraid there is a large number of people who are without education. They are the under informed. I think we could go back to education as the "bases" for all of our problems. I'm sure if every teacher was like you, that would solve the problem, but not the problem of immediate poverty, I know poor people live in neighborhood where there are no jobs. I think we have to take poverty seriously, some problems are too big for individuals to overcome. Some problems need government intervention. Well I guess you know where I stand. And I think we have just began to overcome what the conservatives have done, against great odds. It is so important to keep progressives in the government. I hate to think what kind of world we will have it they are all voted out.

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  11. Anonymous10:39 AM

    I had written a nice, long post that then got "Service Unavailable," so I will just say that it is great that you overcome the ignorance and hatred in these small ways. You are an unnoticed hero each time you get even your little group of students beyond the foolishness of some grownups.

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  12. I had wonderful teachers as a child Sandy. I thought about them, reading this post. I'm sure that you are a wonderful teacher too. What a touching, inspiring post to read.

    Hugs, G

    www.veggiesyarnsandtails.wordpress.com

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  13. I don't read the news much because it increases my anxiety and evokes feelings I'd rather not have. Your post, though it's about something disturbing, gave me hope. As long as there are teachers like you... there's hope.

    Thank you.

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  14. I agree, it's a significant and perfect article for a newspaper.

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  15. Thanks for a very inspiring story. Batman's simple dignity should be a lesson (and example) for us all.
    I'll add my name to those that think this deserves to be printed in a newspaper.

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  16. Have been a tad angry and bitter because of the news lately. You lifted my spirit in I thank you very much ♥

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  17. You have your Batman, and I have my Ahmed. What a coincidence.

    Ahmed is a Somalian 8 year old born to a refugee family.

    Because I grew up in Borneo, I know something about Muslims and Ramadan and Muslin names. It was quite funny I randomly guessed his mom's name to be Fatima, and he was very surprised," How did you know."

    He talks a lot to me because I know a little of his back ground.

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  18. I agree with Cloudia.

    And these children will remember everything you taught them, because you teach them so much and let them teach eachother the rest (and us.)
    Thank you.

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  19. Thank you for sharing this wonderful post. Thank you, too, dear Batman.

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  20. Congrats Sandy on your POTW award!! Well deserved!
    Hugs
    SueAnn

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  21. Anonymous7:26 AM

    This post gave me an 'if only' feeling. If only the world could be run by people who have passed my 'anti racism' test. If only prejudice as an emotion never existed. If only your piece were published on the front page of every newspaper in the entire world.

    If only.

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  22. Anonymous7:58 AM

    What a lovely post. After all the negative media cover, I'm so glad you let this child speak.

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  23. you bring tears of hope to my eyes

    thank you for telling this story

    congrats on POTW

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  24. Wonderful post... I vote for this being published in a newspaper, better a syndicated column so reaches many papers! It seems we have lost our way and somehow made the rich and the beautiful our leaders...

    You are molding future minds, and many I teacher would do well to follow your example!

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