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Common Word, Common Lord

In the Name of God, The Extremely and Eternally Loving and Caring

I sat next to a physician colleague from Texas last week at a leadership development conference in Seattle. As part of the discussion in the course, I mentioned that I was an ordained minister. He came to me later and told me that he was a Christian, and he latched on to those words, which I said truly in passing.

While I admit that I was a little scared to say it, I did tell him that I am Muslim, and I got ordained so I can legally officiate marriages here in the State of Illinois. There is no formal clergy in Islam, and thus I needed some sort of ordination so that the marriage license can attain legitimacy.

I also mentioned to him that my ordination was nothing compared to truly ordained ministers, who spend years in study and learning to earn official degrees, such as a Masters or Doctorate in Divinity. I am nothing compared to them, and I will never pretend to be like they.

We then started talking about how blessed we are to be physicians. I shared with him that, in the Islamic tradition, saving one life is like “saving all of humanity.” To be able to do this on a daily basis, be an agent of God’s healing power, is a gift for which I can never truly thank God enough. I also said that the only way I can begin to approach true gratitude is to show up every day at work and be the best physician I can be.

He then said this to me: “Then, we are brothers.”

I took this very simple statement to great heart, and I made a connection with him from that moment that lasts to this day.

Our country needs more moments such as these, between people of every faith community, every ethnic origin, and every race. Division is so easy to foment; making a Villian out of every other person is something for which our brains have been hard-wired for eons. The “fight or flight” response is so innate in our nature, and it is very easy to fall back on this response whenever we feel fear.

And most horrifically, this fear and hatred can lead to mass murder, as we all have shockingly witnessed in Las Vegas.

But, we are human beings. We are capable of greatness beyond fear and hatred. We have the potential to be greater than even the Angels, who worship God constantly and perfectly in His Holy Presence.

The leadership development course taught me that, to be an excellent communicator, I need to resist this “fight or flight” response and truly work at trying to understand the view of the other person with whom I am engaged in conversation. The course continually encouraged me to remember the humanity of other, even if we do not like or even respect him.

This is truly Prophetic wisdom and teaching. I absolutely loved the course, and I am so very grateful I took it. The lessons learned in these two short days were extremely valuable, and I am trying to implement these lessons in my personal and professional life. I pray to the Lord that I am successful in doing so.

Yet, you know what the best part of the two days was in Seattle? It was meeting my brother from Texas.

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