Thursday, April 9, 2015

Mohammad Zafar - How do the Humanities teach us to embrace our world?

Mohammad Zafar is a 2013 recipient of the Veterans' Voices Award. He is a former U.S. Marine and a community psychologist who transformed his life and is now working hard to transform others.  Stay tuned as he embarks on a journey to open up first fitness complex in Minnesota that caters to holistic fitness with Veterans, disabilities, elders, cultures and families in mind.  You can follow Mohammad's amazing work at and

If we strip down the word “humanities” in its simplest form, we will find that it describes and guides us to understand how human beings process and document the grounded human experience. It looks through our own personal lens of expression through art, history, language, philosophy, psychology, and culture. Then it helps us to feel, look, and listen to others in a positive light.

The humanities teach us that in order to embrace our own communities, we must be given the opportunity to freely explore and learn our own culture, faith, and people through a positive outlook in a healthy environment--away from negativity, bullying, and the toxic waste of forces that are internal and external. In other words, communities that have fresh resources, fairly distributed equity, opportunities, programs, and options will be able to develop the positive social identity of their communities in the context of the humanities.

The Minnesota Humanities Center has done an amazing job of being the leader by bringing out the positive social identity narratives of communities. I experienced this first hand when I was fortunate enough to be one of the 25 Veterans' Voices Award recipients in 2013. Being a Muslim and from an immigrant family, I am just one of many Veterans that contribute to our diversity pool—men and women from all walks of communities. This healthy diversity could be seen when one-by-one the 25 Veterans were asked to come to stage to receive our award while our bios were read. The Humanities Center gives Veterans a fresh opportunity to be recognized through reinforcing the positive social identity of Veterans and of the many communities we all come from. What they do for Veterans is a true example of being a humanitarian.

This justice that the humanities teach us can be naturally applied to understanding all communities, guiding us to embrace the similarities and differences of others, while respecting and appreciating our differences.

In essence, the humanities are there as a guiding light, enriching us as individuals and as a community. The humanities help us expand that positive experience with others. Imagine the humanities as a market place: we are the customers, all there to find things we know and like, but also there to try out new things that others have to offer.

Hello, my name is Mohammad Zafar, and I believe in you!

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