introduction   mary and nida`


In Arabic


There have been times in my life when knowledge of the inevitability of change felt like torture -- I grieved change as loss and fought against it. At other points I have tried to create change through the force of my will, and suffered when things didn't go according to my plan.

There was a night earlier this week when I went to sleep feeling very badly about the state of the world. I felt panicked and afraid. I felt that things had gone horribly wrong, and I had no faith that they would get better.

In the morning, the news of the world was still spinning in my head, the same stories I had seen on TV the night before, accompanied by the same panic in my gut. But a weird thing happened: a little prayer popped into my head. It was not an accident that it came, since I have repeated it to myself over the past decade, making a conscious effort to learn a new approach to life. But it was a surprise to me that this time it came unbidden.

It's called the Serenity Prayer.

God, grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change
the courage to change the things I can
and the wisdom to know the difference.

This prayer has not just made it easier for me to get out of bed in the morning. It helps me acknowledge that there truly are some things that are outside my control. That is not an easy thing to accept, because like many people, I have a feeling that I know what's right, in the larger sense of the word. I also like to harbor the illusion of complete control because it gives me a sense of safety. When I read those lines, I can remember and honor humility, (which is not the same as humiliation).

But I'm also reminded that there are things I can do, that my actions do have an impact. I'm not talking about a direct cause and effect relationship between an action and a result -- although in rare cases that happens. But the way I live my life does impact other people, the thoughts I think affect the way I act and the way I act affects my life and the lives of people around me. By inspiring thought about the shape and scope of my power, this prayer has been an important tool for change in my life.

This web site has also, we hope, been a tool for change -- expanding the visibility, tangibility, and presence of Queer Arabs. In Issue 6 of Bint el Nas, we are proud to offer poetry, prose, art and resources on the subject of change. Micaela Raen writes about the changes transmitted through the warmth of the sun and human touch. A. Kambal & Y. Altawdy describe the transformative powers of love. Taff's poetry reveals the deep longing for change he experiences as a transgendered man. Happy/L.A. Hyder wrestles with issues of control, and reminds us of our role as agents of change in a troubled world. Lina and I discuss the some of the changes felt since September 11th in the United States. And Jen Camper reminds us to laugh, dammit .

We hope you enjoy this issue and, as always, welcome your comments.

haadis: discuss this issue with other bintelnas readers on the message board

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