About three months ago, I was visiting a friend in New York City and he told me that he recently watched a short documentary entitled American Baghdad. (I strongly encourage you to take a few minutes to watch this short film to gain a better understanding of people who may come from a different place than you.) Time passed and I completely forgot to look into watching it, until today.
From my experiences and interactions with others, I found this documentary to be an accurate depiction of Iraq and its people. Highlighted in this short video are primarily two generations – the older, and the younger. The older generation appreciates their opportunity to safely live in America, while they lovingly long to be back in their motherland. They know it is unsafe to move back home, but yet they still miss the pieces of their lives that were there. Often when we speak of refugees (or also, people who were granted asylum somewhere), I do not think we recognize that they can value being in a safer geographic location, while still having a heart that desires to be home. These individuals leave their country because they are forced to leave. It is unsafe for them to remain living there. That does not have to equate to where they want to be. Those can honestly be two different things and that is okay. Who would want to be uprooted from your home…your family…your professional career…your friends…your memories? American Baghdad displays the genuine sense of security and gratefulness for a new country, while still having a heart that longs for home.
At the same time, the younger generation is having a slightly different experience. Like their elders, they value living in a new country. This younger generation also sees their life as being firmly established here. They more quickly adjust to life in a new culture, with a new language, new types of food, new people and everything else that comes with this huge life transition. The youth then begin to build memories in their new country and they have not yet begun their professional careers, so the future is wide and completely new for them as they go throughout childhood. I believe that makes things easier for this generation as they begin to build their new lives in their new country.
Those differences being identified, there was much in this film that I have repeatedly heard from the individuals whom I have met over the years. The fact that many subgroups were part of the Iraqi culture. The fact that religions lived alongside one another peacefully. The fact that life may have been hard over the years in that specific region, but they fully loved their country (This touches me personally because I feel like in my lifetime, I have only seen that deep love for one’s country right after 9/11 and after a few months, it seemed to disappear again. I long to see that passion in today’s youth within my country.). The fact that people were thriving, even with hardships. The fact that people were friendly, warm and inviting. The fact that humanity could bloom, even when under the rule of a harsh dictator.
And then, it was all taken away.
Ahmeli… that we would lovingly have honest and open dialogue with those who are different from “us” as we strive to become a more united and humbled country.
If you like this post, please follow Ahmeli by submitting your e-mail (to the left), sharing on social media, or adding a comment below as we strengthen our tomorrows. Thank you!