How the Kid With the Clock Disappointed Us National introspection about the arrest of an inventive Muslim teen will likely be muted by news his family has left the US and is threatening a lawsuit.
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Whether we are Tiger Moms, mentors to our nephews and nieces, or parents ourselves, our natural instinct is to defend children and protect them from harm or any type of abuse.
We are all familiar with the story that came out about Ahmed Mohamed, a 14-year old Muslim, who was suspended for bringing a homemade clock to school - as well as arrested and questioned by local authorities. There was a lot of talk about what has become of our society for naturally assuming this student was bringing a bomb to school just because he was a Muslim rather than assuming he was naturally curious about engineering and science. He also claimed he just wanted to show his teachers what he made.
The overall feeling was shame that a boy would be a victim of racial profiling and that society had become that suspicious of another ethnicity and religion out of fear that there could be more terrorism attacks. We questioned just how evolved we could be for turning on children. No one wanted to admit that they had somehow participated in scaring this kid or being racist in their conclusions about Mohamed's intent. It even started a dialogue about how Muslims are treated in America.
Many lessons were learned with the result being some good discussions. Still there were the naysayers who claimed the whole thing was a hoax perpetuated by the boy and his family, especially after the boy and his family moved to Qatar so he could attend a program for young scientists. Again, it was hard to think that we could all become that insensitive.
Yet, with the recent news that the student and his family are now demanding $15 million from the City of Irving, Texas or else they will file a civil rights lawsuit, is sickening, too. They also are requiring apology letters, which would make sense, but the real concern here is the demand for a huge amount of money, which essentially would come from the pockets of taxpayers - the very ones who have been standing up for this kid.
In just minutes, this child and his family went from heroes who were calling out the racial profiling that is occurring in this country to greedy people who suddenly could be healed from the incident if they received a big sum of money. This demand for money essentially shut down a dialogue and proved the point of the naysayers. In seeing the demand for money, many have now changed focus to why the boy decided to make a clock over any other type of device. Doubt will start to creep in where there had previously been nothing but a concern and support for people's right to a religion and belief. We believed in his innocence.
While the child and his family should receive an apology, money does not solve racial issues, it exacerbates the problem. In this case, it only further inflames the suspicions and hatred that is reaching a boiling point, especially as more terrorist attacks occur like the recent one in Paris. Ahmed Mohamed and his family's reputation as heroes not only has diminished to zero, but this behavior by him and his family have now furthered the level of suspicion toward Muslims in this country. He truly went from Hero to Zero in a matter of one statement.
None of us like to be duped like this student and his family have done. Despite the fact that this type of situation can easily harden our hearts against another group of people, the fact is that we cannot assume that a whole demographic is bad based on the actions of a few. We need to be aware their are fakepreneurs everywhere that can steal our hears and then crush them weeks later.
Let this be a lesson to both young and old. If something like this happens to you or someone you know and love, use it to better the world. When Ahmed Mohamed started he was a cry for those in this country who are oppressed. He was a voice for those whose aren't heard. Become that person, not the person who uses it for gain.
While it can be difficult to regain trust after an incident like this one, let's keep the dialogue open and take the time to understand what the real face of evil looks like before we assume, accuse and judge.
As we're coming to the close of 2015 and welcoming in a new year, let's be the heroes who unite the world.Related: 6 Steps to Adopting Core Values That Stick