I know you are afraid; I know you are reacting. So am I. In your eyes, your heart, your soul, you are asking me: “Where do you come from?” You are asking me: “What do you believe in?” You are demanding of me: “What are you going to do to show me that you are no threat?”

On these savannahs of misdirected accusations, the voice of reason is lost.

So, give me a quiet moment of your time and let me show you the constellation of my being. Walk with me.

Yes, I am a Muslim — cradled into adulthood by Benedictine monks at a Catholic college in Minnesota. And yes, I am an immigrant. And yes, I am an American.

If you are going to ask me for my ID because of my race and religion, then I will fight you in the courts.

If you tell me that you believe in rejecting the personhood of a human being based on their place of birth, then I will roar to you that your moral relativity is an antecedent to the unraveling of our societal connectivity and communal survival.

If you tell me that you have the capacity (because you do …) to love me, to be vulnerable with me, to reject the darkness of self-imposed restrictions, then I will walk with you.

The nihilist Islamic State has hijacked the narrative of not only a religion but also of an entire region that has utterly failed to become whole. And the reason it is in pieces, the reason it is shattered, is that it is unable to govern, to educate, to have a judiciary, to have faith in humanity and trust in free speech and open and progressive assembly of thought.

It is shattered because for a hundred years, it has not been able to rise from the evisceration of colonialism and intentional manipulation, but indeed has drowned in corruption, nepotism, xenophobia and dictatorial self-preservation.

With millennial populations completely disenfranchised (jobless, powerless, hopeless) because of their governments’ narcissism, their gaze is to the only thing that provides a distorted meaning through the lens of belonging and fear.

Whether it is Islam as a religion, or the countries that have abused Islam and made it a crutch for their political and social ego and ambitions at the expense of the human being, the verdict is very clear: The rot from more than 400 years of imbibing its own bile and self-importance has to stop. There needs to be an age of reformation, an age of enlightenment that allows governance and societal institutions to join the 21st century.

This radicalization of a religion (subject to all the maniacal exploitation to serve an extreme end), happening in the age of instant connectivity, where the idea of a nation-state has proven to be ill-suited, can only stop if all of us are brave enough to ask: “What are the new democratic mechanisms that allow these borders to be redrawn and co-exist?”

Some state that there is a percentage of the population of the Middle East and Southeast Asian countries who believe that the acid evil birthed by Islamic State is justified. They are right: There are people who hold such beliefs. It’s proof that nobody has cornered the global market on stupidity, ignorance and hatred.

If that is not the utter tragedy of being human, then what is? In the name of a light that is pure, we have destroyed each other over the many centuries, and the only lament left is that of survivors who refused to be buried.

Let us not succumb to the fallacy of numbers. Using statistical projections to identify a certain population as potential terrorists does a disservice to our ability to contextualize the statistics and actually enable intelligent action. (Do we fear the Chinese-American population because a handful of their stupid brethren in their home country believe that hacking U.S. websites to steal information is a calling of life?)

So I roar this unequivocally to you: We are all immigrants. Walk with me.

And to those Islamic State followers who have relinquished their right to bow their head in submission to God facing Mecca because they have killed wantonly from the perch of the dark abyss, I hold my ground firm and say: “There will be no caliphate … anywhere.”

To those who are on all their journeys for a better life, I say this: “Let’s claw and believe with whatever we have in our possession so you can have a life. Let’s believe in the grace of what is possible. Let’s fight unjust despair and death. Let us become whole.”

Kerem Durdag is a business executive, essayist, poet, husband and father who lives in Scarborough.

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