‘We Have More in Common Than What You Think’ by Manal Harrouche, Algeria

tumblr_inline_n9f77cjb1d1sag8l3I was raised in a community that indoctrinated in me fear, hate, and a strong feeling of dislike towards whoever is not me, i.e: whoever who is not Muslim and not Arab. When I started reading, I started shaping my personality myself.
When I started shaping my world through the books I read, I recognized that knowing things is exerting power over them and thus shaping them and that means creating a different reality and giving a different dimension to our visions.
I have been thinking that if a certain religion was perfect why would we not believe in just one religion?
Growing up, I learned that as an Algerian, a north African, I’m not an Arab. My history says I am a Berber. I discovered that not all Algerians are Muslim, some are Christians, others are Jewish and some are atheist. I discovered then that I was a  North African who had been taught a wrong lesson in history. I am technically more related to Africa than the Middle East but life connected me more with the Middle East. Since then , I’ve been wondering why we dont have one single religion? Why are there frontiers between us? Why are we still defined according to only one element of our huge identity?
It didn’t take too long for me to find an answer to every single question of mine. I learned that God is too big to fit in one religion. I learned that all religions are complementary and each is a pillar for the others. I learned that every religion is perfect in its content and must have contained something noble to have so many faithful followers. I learned that no identity is pure, every single “identity” took something from some other identities and that is what we call human exchange. I learned that those frontiers represent the uniqueness of some group.
I learned that peace and serenity need only one thing; to read about the other, to be open towards the other, to learn about the other without any prior made up ideas or stereotypes, to deal with the other not only from the point that they share some similarities with you but that from the point that their differences are the center of exchange.  Peace needs human beings who act in a humane way, humans who respect and believe that differences are rich and priceless, who know very well that a painting with one single color is not a painting but the one with many colors is the one to be seen as a masterpiece, as a painting and as the world.
I tried to talk a bit about my short journey of interior struggle to deliver a few messages.

  1. If you need peace, just do it! Don’t wait for the others to show you how. This is mainly politicians because most of us think that peace building is the responsibility of our politicians. No, peace is a mental matter.  Build it inside our land, construct a peaceful idea about the other and that’s how we will grant the world some peace.
  2. Read! Don’t listen to subjective stories about others. Anecdotes are useful but check them out before believing in them.
  3. Foster your human communication skills. Communicate, network, love , be open to the world and appreciate differences because similarities are nothing but very boring spots to navigate. A human being can never be the enemy of his brother unless he wants to be. Don’t be a person who deconstructs instead of constructing. Don’t limit your impact to a small space , but try to widely generate it, it’s okay to be connected to Africa, MENA, Asia, Europe, etc….. because after all we all belong to one big family.


Salam & Greetings from Algeria


YaLa Young Leaders

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