Friday, December 19, 2008

Anniversaries- and Accountability

This month is more than merely the month we celebrate Christmas.

This month is also the month that marks the anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights - written in 1948, the wake of the Nazi Holocaust in hopes that clearly affirming and explaining basic human rights might help shape a more positive and peaceful future for all people.

This month is also my own anniversary, marking the day when my husband and I got married.

Many many many Christmases later, as I carefully decorate our Christmas tree it is good to look back on our years together, counting our blessings. Life has not always been easy (or fair), but we have managed to, day by day each day in turn, rise to every challenge- and survive. Good intentions help immensely- and so do compassion and empathy... and hard work.... and focusing in on the positive... and attention to detail...

Every year at least one if not more of our Christmas ornaments and decorations gets broken.

We try to fix what we can as many of our ornaments are symbols collected through out the years... symbols of ideas and people and places and times that we want to remember and cherish:

It might seem silly to have an old pair of baby socks on the tree- but those little socks have decorated our tree since one of my babies pulled them off their adorable little wiggly baby toes years and years ago.

Some of our ornaments have been more recently purchased, such as little wooden ornaments made in Palestine from Olive tree wood.

I like the idea of investing in Palestine- and investing in peace... a just and lasting peace for all people.

I also believe in investing in America- and our ideals of true liberty, justice and equality for ALL.

And I believe in investing in beauty and the arts- and poetry...encouraging the best, and the most inspiring.
Investing in Civilization

The Internet is an amazing gift- allowing us to communicate with far away family and friends- and complete strangers. What we post and the emails we exchange and forward can help open up hearts and minds- make connections & keep connections... help reaffirm human dignity and decency.... help civilization survive.

The opposite is true too... but from what I can see most reasonable and intelligent people tend to ever so politely and quietly walk away from the impossibly rude and crude and cruel and stupid and insulting and deceitful, preferring not to waste time and energy on totally negative pursuits, leaving hate mongers free to think they are winning... when really they are not.

There are countless people world wide worth listening to and learning from, and the more we reach out beyond our own small circle of friends and family to appreciate various perspectives and insights the more we enrich our entire world and our own selves, in much the same way that ancient trade routes enriched communities all along the way.

Last week I came across a fascinating op-ed in one of my favorite newspapers, The Jordan Times, which I blogged for my notes for letters- and for inspiration for myself :

"....This phasing out of the duties of individuals meant a devolution of this dimension of human rights at a time when this complementary feature of human rights is much needed in order to attain more balance and symmetry between rights and duties of individuals" ‘Dwarfing’ the declaration by Walid M. Sadi

Duties and rights are in many ways two sides of the very same coin as we the people seek to make the world a better place for more people.

When I was growing up and my mother did some stranger a favor, they would want to repay her but she would smile and say; "It's a favor- pass it on"... and they would smile warmly in response and promise that they would. That's a treasured lesson I very much took to heart- as have many who have benefited from the kindness and generosity of others... as well as good examples... pass it on...

My mother-in-law is the queen of forwards- most of them deliciously funny- some a bit naughty... but none are intentionally cruel. Most are heartwarming and adorable- mood lifting- and entertaining. Some are simply informative. Some are hard to fathom. Many she has received from her friends and she passes them on to friends and family.

Everywhere on earth there are decent and good people quietly and gently and each in their own way being kind to and about family and friends- and strangers. That's civilization. No one person or government or religion owns it- it belongs to all of us, as one wonderfully diverse humanity learns to get along.

My advice to my own children as they learn to accept responsibility for their own choices and their own future is to make making priorities a priority. Every choice you make has ramifications, so be mindful of how you choose to spend your time- and thought-and money:

You can not control what others do- but you can control your own response.... and the messages you send... and you can help shape a better world where all children have a chance at a decent life....Mainstream media work... Help free Palestine with positive thoughts and efforts: As always (for good stories, and honest stories that help explain the very real plight of the Palestinians) PLEASE go to the link to read the story in full- to help let the newspaper know the story is popular- and to help bring in ad revenue for those newspapers who dare publish Palestinian perspectives... & feel free to write the newspaper a comment, note or formal letter.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Giving Gifts

Sorting through all many tempting photos I've taken of my family and home since the last time I blogged Growing Gardens- and all many tempting themes... I keep coming back to one theme that seems most important- and none of my own personal photos really fully express what I want to write about today.

Giving Gifts.

I think the first gift we are ever given is the gift of positive thoughts.

Hold a newborn and you can not help but be drawn into their eyes as they are drawn into yours... and you can not help but hope for the best for this child... this gift of life.

The gift of positive thoughts.

In living a gentle, civilized life, over and over I try to bring the best of myself to my family and friends... and to the organizations and ideas that I believe are worthy endeavors, worthy investments of my own time and energy.

Every day I am blessed for I am married to a good and decent man. Yeah ok he is not entirely perfect- but he is perfect for me...

He is a good man and a good husband and father who daily gives the gift of his time, and the gift of his wide knowledge, and the gift of his hard work, and the gift of his great sense of humor to help make our world and our home a better place.

The gift of positive thoughts.

This week three important appeals for donations have appeared, like the three wise men. Each organization is different- and yet all three are very concerned about one subject that concerns my family- and that is Palestine.

I often blog these organizations' appeals because I think they are important... not only as it is VERY important to give money to help worthy endeavors, but also because each appeal helps explain their core mission, and their goals- and what they have accomplished.

The first best gift you can give is good thoughts... and then if you have a bit of money to spare, please feel free to invest it wisely in good ideas- and decent organizations that seek to help educate America about Palestine.... and the crucial importance of respecting the Palestinian refugee's inalienable legal, moral, natural and sacred right to return to original homes and lands.

Right now, more than ever, the people of Palestine need our help.

Mainstream media work... Help free Palestine with positive thoughts and efforts: As always (for good stories, and honest stories that help explain the very real plight of the Palestinians) PLEASE go to the link to read the story in full- to help let the newspaper know the story is popular- and to help bring in ad revenue for those newspapers who dare publish Palestinian perspectives... & feel free to write the newspaper a comment, note or formal letter.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Christmas Lights

My Kitchen Window getting ready for Christmas

I like holidays. Yes here in America they can get far too commercial, but home by home every home really does retain that spirit of good will so crucial to nurturing humankind, decency, and dignity as we are all free to celebrate however we might wish.

Married to an American Muslim whose large family tree has roots that reach right back into historic Palestine, the way I celebrate has changed a bit over the years. Become better really as the years roll by and I raise our children and read books and explore the Internet and learn more and more about the world past and present.

And the older I get the more I appreciate my husband Jaffar. His powers of observation and vast general knowledge never fail to impress me. He thinks clearly- he's got a great sense of humor and yet he works so hard, even on his days off. I cringe when I read or hear negative things and hate mongering targeting Muslims for the Muslims I know really are simply people- human beings, good bad and indifferent just like all human beings.

My husband Jaffar with our sons Miqdad & James in our dinning room

This year, very much appreciating the importance of family and adoring my own family I appreciate more and more the Christmas images and symbols with a father, mother and "...unto us a child is born."

As with everything what you bring to something is what it becomes. Every person is free to contribute each in their own way to help every endeavor become better... and every symbol more significant.

I am convinced that the most important component of civilization is the family- and for me at least Christmas celebrates that- Christmas celebrates love not only for one's own family but for all of humankind.

All symbols of Christmas, even the most commercial ones, reach back to the roots of family in one way or another, and much of what we do to celebrate Christmas is to bring warmth and goodness and cheer and welcome into our homes.

The same is true of many Islamic feasts as they are celebrated with family and friends and children often are given gifts- and the poor are given charity. There is a great deal of generosity in the Arab world, as well as a tradition of giving guests a warm welcome- and delectable food. This is our heritage- every one's heritage really as Arab ways are very much part of our modern world.

Indian Muslims pray at the <span class=J

Muslims throughout the world are celebrating Eid al-Adha, the festival of sacrifice.

Most Americans don't know that yesterday was the Islamic feast - the Holy Day/Holiday Eid Al Adha "The Feast of the Sacrifice" and it coincides with and marks the end of the Holy Pilgrimage to Mecca. It was a day off for many people in the Middle East and because of that my husband was able to enjoy a long chat with his father on the phone.

Visiting the Middle East at Christmas time you can hear Christmas carols in shops- and see Christmas lights and trees. Not as many as in America, and also in addition to a sprinkling of Christmas lights and symbols there are many Ramadan lights which I wish we had here- a crescent moon and a star that fits in a window or up on a wall.

Every year my husband gets out the ladder and he puts Christmas lights up for me. Every year they are a bit different, depending on how much time we might have to twiddle with designs.

This year we had time- but it was cold. I am my husband's helpmate as he puts up the lights. I hold things and hand them to him. We work well together.

Twilight and twinkling lights... the sun set as my husband finished putting up our Christmas Lights. I wish my camera could have also captured the V of geese flying overhead, and then the rising crescent moon - encircled with the glow of ice crystals.

Our reindeer now gaze across the street at our neighbors reindeer.

Every year on seeing Christmas lights, I fondly remember years ago the many nights when our boys were very little- how adorable they were as they'd toddle and dash up to their bedroom window at bedtime... and stand together on tippy toes peaking out to see the pretty lights on the house across the street.

I like having nice neighbors... and I like Holidays... and my home and family. In growing a garden for Palestine today this Christmas season, I am hoping that more and more Americans learn about Palestine past, present and future...

for Palestine inspires

WHEREAS recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world....Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948

Sunday, November 23, 2008

...To be True

I want prayers
to go back to the spiritual

to be of air and light
and goodness

To be of heaven

To be of love
and looking up

To be of angels' song

Not the guns and hate
inspired now
by "Israel"

Not the crimes
and cruelty
inspired now
by "Israel"

Not the collaborations
and betrayals

and greed

Not the corruption
and lies... and manipulative games

I want prayers
to be pure
to be good- to be kind

To be true

copyright 2008 Anne Selden Annab

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Be the change you want- DARE HOPE !

" ... And to all those who have wondered if America's beacon still burns as bright: Tonight we proved once more that the true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals: democracy, liberty, opportunity and unyielding hope.

That's the true genius of America: that America can change. Our union can be perfected. What we've already achieved gives us hope for what we can and must achieve tomorrow."
Acceptance Speech: 'Change has come to America.' Remarks of President-Elect Barack Obama-as prepared for delivery, Election Night Tuesday, November 4th, 2008, Chicago, Illinois

I hoped- but did not dare believe it might become true... but it did!!!!!

Hate mongering and divisiveness did not win the day!

America has elected not only a person of color- but an inspiring optimist...

What a thrill to come across a vertiable avalanche of great letters on the topic of this historic American election by good and decent people worldwide who are helping shape this new presidency already with their own positive energy and efforts:

" Ultimately, before we are Republicans, Democrats or Independents, we are Americans." Aim for healing letter in the Detroit Free Press by Sherri Muzher

"As a proud American of Arab decent, I take strong exception to Senator John McCain's suggestion that somehow, to be decent, to be a good American, you can't be an Arab as well. Arab Americans have been loyal citizens of this nation for over 150 years and have served in every war this country had to fight. They have been loyal citizens serving with exceptional commitments in all areas of human endeavour whether it is in the arts, sciences, commerce, space and the continual enrichment of the spiritual and moral foundations of America. We pride ourselves on nurturing strong and wholesome families who are driven to excellence in education, self-reliance and good citizenship." McCain and Arabs letter in Al Ahram (newspaper published in Cairo since 1875) by Aref Assaf

"Obama can turn over this page of mutual misgivings and bridge the chasm between the West and the Muslim world. He can create a blueprint to solve the intractable Arab-Israeli conflict and bring a lasting peace to the turbulent Middle East. He can help deepen respect for the sovereignty of states and the compliance with international laws....Obama can succeed in redeeming the American heritage of tolerance, equity and justice." Obama Ascends letter in the International Herald Tribune by Munjed Farid Al Qutob

Now is not the time to be cynical- now is the time to do all we can to work for positive change. To take responsibility for our own part in shaping a more productive conversation to help produce better polices and better investments (both foreign and domestic) here there and everywhere.

And today, I reminded of an effort this year by the Elders to have The Universal Declaration of Human Rights taken more seriously, not only on an international level- but on an individual level.

The Elders, a group launched by Nelson Mandela in 2007, are asking individuals and organizations around the world to join together in standing up for human rights:

"2008 is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 60th anniversary. It's time for a global conversation about human rights and the values that unite us as one human family. But it can also be a time when each of us chooses to take human rights into our daily lives, by joining a powerful people network."

I choose to sign this declaration because:

I wish to take responsibility for upholding the goals of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in my daily life and in my community. I will do my best to speak out to protect the freedom and rights of others in my community.

I affirm the following principle: “Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.”

I believe Every Human Has Rights.

No one is perfect- nor is any organization perfect, there is always room for improvement...

One wish I have is that the Elders- and everyone else worldwide- would make it more of a priority to respect Palestine- and the Palestinian refugees inalienable legal, natural and moral right to return to original homes and lands.

The Palestinians have been harshly oppressed, cruelly tormented and essentially ignored for decades... it really is time to FREE PALESTINE in every possible way.

Free the people- free the land- free the story...

Start with FULL respect for true return.

To reiterate for the umpteenth time:

FREEDOM & RETURN: A Rights Based Solution to building a just and lasting peace in the Middle East ... Not just the return (al-awda) of the refugees, but also a return to the rule of law and respect for human rights: For more than five decades Palestinian refugees and internally displaced have struggled for a solution to their plight based on UN resolutions and international law, including the right to voluntarily return to their homes and lands of origin from which they were displaced/expelled during wars in 1948 and 1967 and due to other Israeli policies of forced eviction, deportation, etc....

Celebrate HOPE ... and change... positive change!

In celebrating Obama's victory we can and should celebrate all those who are right now this very minute busy overcoming HUGE challenges that might seem unsurmountable:

Celebrate the hard work and inspiring efforts of those who dare envision a better world- based on respecting human dignity... and the content of character... and the rule of fair and just laws.

Celebrate and support every cultural event and effort that helps remind us of our humanity and our shared history as time and time again proves that underneath it all we are one community constantly redefining how best to navigate a very modern complex world.

Celebrate potential- and Palestine.

Be the change you want.

Help grow another garden for Palestine where ever you might be.

For Palestine Inspires...
WHEREAS recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world....Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948

"...Universal Echo" a poem in Growing Gardens for Palestine الصدى الكوني ... حدائق فلسطين النامية...

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Discovering our Shared Heritage... & please get out and VOTE!

Positive energy and positive efforts and positive attitudes are very important to me... I think creativity is inspiring and empowering.

Fayeq Oweis Arabic Calligraphy : Love & Peace

I often go to Museum websites in search of relaxation and inspiration. I've also bookmarked some of my favorite artists such as Ismail and Tamam two Palestinian artists....

Both of them were born in Palestine...

While some people think the word stereotype automatically means negative stereotype, I believe it is a more neutral word and concept - a reality- a natural human inclination to more easily organize our world with shorthand images symbolizing any of many multidimensional groups to help make sense of what is what. Thus, in my opinion, the best way to fight a negative stereotype is by making sure positive stereotypes are available. Focus on the positive.

There are many efforts to do this, efforts that should be appreciated and enjoyed, for I think such efforts are the only way to stop the hate that negative stereotypes inspire.

Channel Icon
From: QueenRania

Our lives today bring us in touch with many different cultures -- both East and West. Ever wonder where some of the things we use every day come from?

طبيعة حياتنا اليوم تجعلنا نتواصل مع العديد من الثقافات المختلفة ... من الشرق والغرب. هل تساءلت يوما من اين تأتي الاشياء التي نستخدمها يوميا

Not everyone in America is lucky enough to really know, love and cherish an Arab- or an Arab American.... Arab Americans are a wonderfully dynamic mix of East meets West, and some are actually clever enough to know more than one language- and more than one country. Many have fascinating family stories of the old world and old ways, and some have fascinating new family stories of a very modern Middle East.

The Internet enables us to reach out and get to know the Arab world- and Palestine- in positive ways: In addition to Museums and more formal organizations and projects that help fight negative stereotypes there is Facebook.... My own current 'face' there is:

A Visual Poem
copyright 2008 Anne Selden Annab

One thing that is fun about Facebook is being about to get away from all the words... and all the many many negative stereotypes about Arabs and Muslims in general- and Palestinians in particular- to simply enjoy images.... inspiring images... one of my favorites:

The Land and Love

historical sites in palestineCreated 19 hours ago

from my online friend

Tamer Halaseh

"If you don't read the newspaper, you are uninformed; if you do read the newspaper, you are misinformed...."

4 photos

It is more than merely a pleasure to look through such photographs... it is also very empowering on a primal level.

The miracle of the Internet amazes me, as does the ingenuity of nameless computer geniuses who keep things running- constantly enhancing humankind's ability to connect, creating a union one by one with a depth and reach that is far beyond even my own wild imagination.

Yes, one can choose to dwell in the negative and the nasty and believe the worst- but I'd rather not.

I'd rather look for the good- and promote that.

We can wallow in misery- or we can reach out and find a better way forward.

We can't really chose our lot in life, but we can choose to always try to live by The Golden Rule as in Do Unto Others As You Would Have Them Do Unto You... in order to help create a more civilized and decent world where every parent might have the time, energy and resources to do well by their children- and all our children might have a chance to grow up discovering their own innate gifts. Discovering how they might be able to use their own various gifts and talents- and connections and compassion and empathy to help make a better world... one day- one child at a time.

When I was a little girl I did not realize how much the memory of my own grandmother would be a guiding light as I grew up. I think of her every day.

Granny & me in her garden, 3100 Cathedral Ave. Washington DC

My grandmother had long silver white hair, which she wore up in a bun. At night, right before bed, I loved watching and listening as my Granny carefully took out her hair pins, revealing and unraveling her hair. Her long silver white hair would cascade down her back and she'd brush it out- 100 strokes.

And she'd talk to me- telling me stories. Little stories about her own life and beliefs... and habits... and all about my grandfather. Granny was widowed the year before I was born.

It was my grandmother's love and constant kindness to me and all her many family stories that made me think that silver white hair was the most beautiful hair color on earth... I still do.

The house where my grandmother lived was once owned by Peter & Catherine Marshall.

Catherine Marshall, born Catherine Wood, (September 27, 1914March 18, 1983) was an author of nonfiction, inspirational, and fiction works. She was the wife of well-known minister Peter Marshall. The Reverend Dr. Peter Marshall (27 May 1902January 26, 1949) was a Scottish-American preacher, and twice served as Chaplain of the United States Senate. He is remembered most popularly from the biography A Man Called Peter, and the film made from it.

Catherine Marshall ... authored over 20 books which have sold over 16 million copies. Her books include edited collections of sermons and prayers of her late husband, as well as her own nonfiction inspirational writings. Her most successful books were A Man Called Peter [1] (1951), the inspirational biography of her late husband, Peter Marshall; and her novel, Christy (1967), which was inspired by the story of her own mother's journey to the mountains to teach the impoverished children of Appalachia. A Man Called Peter was made into a film in 1955, and Christy was made into a CBS television series, starring Kellie Martin, in 1994.

As I got older my grandmother (as well as my mother) encouraged me to read Catherine Marshall's books. My grandmother also gave me all her own old books from her own childhood, books that both entertain and help shape character in positive ways. Hopelessly old fashioned, I still treasure them... and I am glad I had such positive role models.

My grandmother's world was a very different world from the world today. Her father was a doctor and she used to accompany him sometimes as he visited patients. He had a horse and buggy, and often his patients paid him with chickens or apples or whatever else they had to trade for his services.

When my grandmother was born women did not have the right to vote in America.

One way that the world has not changed is that having a voice and a vote helps shape a more real democracy with full and equal rights for all.

It isn't only the vote itself, or even who gets elected but rather the entire process and the conversation all around the election that help shape polices to come.

This morning I got an email asking everyone to "Do us all a favor and help get out the Arab American vote this year"

James Zogby wrote:
SUBJECT: Please do me a favor between now and November 4th

This is the most important election of my lifetime - and of yours, too. Arab Americans can make a significant difference in this year's elections, but only if we vote. Do us all a favor and help get out the Arab American vote this year.

We've set up the Yalla Vote Virtual Phone Bank to reach registered Arab American voters in battleground states. Sign up to help. Make some calls. Remind your community to vote.

Do me the favor of signing up today at . Give an hour of your time, each day between now and November 4th, and you can reach hundreds of Arab Americans with this important message. And if you know people who would like to help, forward this message to them.

Also, feel free to e-mail me directly at and let me know what you are doing to encourage others in our community to get out and vote this year. I'd like to hear from you.

Please click here to volunteer now.

Thank you,

Jim Zogby

President, Arab American Institute

Arab American Institute
1600 K Street, NW Suite 601
Washington, DC 20006

When I was born Black men and women could vote but they certainly did not have full and equal rights and freedoms in here America because of racist segregation.... and today, as Barack Obama runs for President of our nation, these United States of America, we have stepped into a New Better World, where charater really does count more than skin color... and all men, women and children are free to simply be and to prosper no matter what their religion might be.

We live in a modern time and place that is the antithesis of segregation as images and pictures and stories and voices from around the globe reach right into our family rooms in less time than a blink.

Sometimes when our telephone rings its one of those awful robo-calls, or a telemarketer... but sometimes it is a warm voice- a treasured friend- or family that lives halfway across the world.

Arabic coffee, called sada, is not a mere drink for bedouins. In badia traditions, also followed in urban centres in the Kingdom, the head of delegation of notables who have a request from the host, like conciliation effort or asking for a woman’s hand for marriage, will not drink the first cup of coffee he is offered until his request is granted

You don't even have to be stuck inside anymore if you want to be connected. Many people world wide have cell phones - and cell phones can take photos.... photos that can be sent arround the world in a blink.

My son's college campus has a wireless internet and he can work on his laptop most anywhere! I like to imagine him sitting outside the library under the autumn trees- learning....

Every day human ingenuity makes this world of ours both larger and smaller all in one tightly interconnected leap ... or stroll... or whatever.

In growing a Garden for Palestine today, I hope everyone gets out to do two things.

1. Counter Negative Stereotypes with Positive Stereotypes



WHEREAS recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world....Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948

For Palestine Inspires...