Al-Jazeerah: Cross-Cultural Understanding
Opinion Editorials, February 2017
Lebanese-American poet Khalil Gibran wrote the following poem to his fellow Arab American immigrants in 1926 but it is also a salute to immigrants who came to America from all continents. It is as valid today, as it was about a century ago.
I believe in you, and I believe in your destiny.
I believe that you are contributors to this new civilization.
I believe that you have inherited from your forefathers an ancient dream, a song, a prophecy, which you can proudly lay as a gift of gratitude upon the lap of America.
I believe that you can say to the founders of this great nation, "Here I am, a youth... a young tree whose roots were plucked from the hills of Syria, but now, I am deeply rooted here, and I would be fruitful."
And I believe that you can say to Abraham Lincoln, the blessed, "Jesus of Nazareth touched your lips when you spoke, and guided your hand when you wrote; and I shall uphold all that you have said and all that you have written."
I believe that even as your fathers came to this land to produce riches, you were born to produce riches by intelligence and labor.
I believe that it is in you to be good American citizens.
And what is it to be a good citizen?
It is to acknowledge the other person's rights before asserting your own, but always to be conscious of your own.
It is to be free in word and deed, but it is also to know that your freedom is subject to the other person's freedom.
It is to produce by labor and only by labor, and to spend less than you have produced that your children may not be dependent upon the state for support when you are no more.
It is to stand before the towers of New York and Washington, Chicago and San Francisco saying in your hearts, "I am the descendent of a people who built Damascus and Byblos, and Tyre and Sidon and Antioch, and I am here to build with you, and with a will."
It is to be proud of being an American, but it is also to be proud that your fathers and mothers came from a land upon which God laid His gracious hand and raised His messengers.
Young Americans of Syrian (and all) origins, I believe in you.
Contributed by Mazin Qumsiyeh.
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