Posted on Dec 19, 2016
If we’re going to be totally honest with ourselves, it doesn’t look like things are getting any easier for the Muslim-American community any time soon. Or at least the next 4 years…possibly 8, and even if the President-elect only serves a single term, the ramifications of his soon to be Presidency have already hit the Muslim-American community, particularly Muslim women, very hard. As someone who follows the news as closely as possibly, I can say it is hard to live independent of the seemingly constant distress happening within this country. The only way to deal with this new reality, this unfortunate hostile environment, is to build mental grit.
In order to achieve mental grit, you have to have a little conversation with yourself (don’t worry, I do this all the time – if child says “mama, stop talking to yourself” simply say: “geniuses talk to themselves” and proceed), and determine which personal convictions are going to push you forward … even when you feel like standing still in a time of uncertainty. Crystalizing what is important to you, which battles you decide to take on, what you’re going to take, where you’ll invest your energy – and where you won’t, is cathartic.
When the world is going bonkers - fake news galore, constant bombardment of words, tweets, instas, and snaps, understanding your moral compass helps give you guidance.
Personal Code of Ethics
Interestingly enough, I recently finished up an assignment I feel everyone else should do, ASAP. I wrote a Personal Code of Ethics. In any profession, it is important to have a deep understanding of your own personal convictions. It helps to differentiate between personal and professional codes, as well as find spaces of consolidation - but that’s a different story for a different time. However, what I can definitely say is that this has been my favorite graduate assignment so far, no research required, just some deep contemplation.
This is the written version of the conversation you just had [with yourself]– the convictions that push you forward, during difficult circumstances.
Write It Out
Your Personal Code of Ethics is made up of 3 components.
- Intro - why are you writing this code?
- Points of Conviction - what are the absolute, non-negotiable values you hold?
- Conclusion - reaffirm your commitment to your personal codes
Sample Personal Code of Ethics
Confidence doesn’t come easy. It’s never a final destination, rather a constant work in progress. There are always those moments when you think to yourself, I could have handled that situation better, I could have said this – or that, but didn’t. Usually those who carry themselves with the most confidence have traveled a lengthy road, one full of second guesses and internal conflict. I write this code in ode to my own journey, and to the long road ahead for the new generation of Muslims in America growing up under the shadow of Islamophobia.
Code of Ethics
1) I will lead with an open heart and mind.
As someone who has always been on the fringe of society, I will work hard to keep an open mind and heart to others. I understand that every single person comes from a different set of circumstances. Each person carries an unseen weight with them, a weight that is a culmination of life experiences based on family dynamics, friendship circles (both positive and negative). Not everyone has found their champion, and I have to keep an open mind to being someone’s champion – or not. When I simply awaken myself to the notion that everyone is coming to the table with a different life perspective, it makes dealing with situations a bit easier. That is a starting point to help diffuse potentially difficult situations.
2) I will stand up against bigotry wherever I am.
I will never forget the moment during my sophomore year in college, in a post 9/11 world, when I stepped into a downtown Philly convenience store, the cashier (after taking my money) called after me: “say hi to Osama”. Or when I was traveling with my mother and a group of teenagers in the car beside us started shouting obscenities because of the hijab. Unfortunately, the stories of hate crimes, in Trump’s America continue to come through, but I want those who are around me to know that I will stand against bigotry wherever I may find it, and I will offer a safe space for anyone in need.
3) I will fight off the pessimist in me, and become a solutions-oriented individual.
It is easy to get trapped in a negative mindset. Complaining is easy. Sulking is easy. The hard part is to face reality with a solutions-based mentality. When I hit a roadblock, instead of sulking, I promise myself to think of solutions instead of complaints. This will help me achieve the goals I set for myself.
4) I will not stop learning.
I will not stop learning about my profession. I will not stop learning about my faith. I will not stop learning about my family and loved ones. I will continue to hold this motto dear because I know that the moment I feel like I know everything, I have lost. In an age of ample information, I must seek out genuine information to live a fulfilling life, both personally and professionally.
5) Prioritize what makes my soul happy.
Recently, someone asked if I would like to go back to a time when I was younger and did not have any responsibilities. My answer to that was ‘I have always known responsibility’. However, there are things in life that bring happiness to my soul and ease the burden of responsibility. Writing brings me joy, the quiet that comes with an early Fajr morning and reading aloud to my children. This is what I must prioritize because in the end, our mental grit, how we interact with others, the energy we exude, and what we contribute to this world is all tied to the happiness of our souls.
My Code is My Guide
In an increasingly discombobulated society, understanding one’s own footing is necessary to remain sane. The principles set forth in my personal code of ethics are ones I will use as my guiding light when I feel overwhelmed, distressed or faced with darkness. I understand that there are obstacles in every path, but with this code I am ready and capable of facing any obstacle set forth.
Ahlam Yassin is an educator, grad student, 24/7 on-call mom and writer. Visit her blog: www.ahlamyassin.com.