Category Archives: Omar Alansari-Kreger

Intellectual Immersion of Children

By Omar Alansari-Kreger

The truth is that people want to be heard without listening to each other.

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What is the best way to arouse permanent intellectual curiosities? There is no simple remedy. Ideas that support concepts are embraced through an individually driven learning style. We can practically assume that people learn on their own terms, but how do we provoke that great intellectual awakening? It ultimately begins in childhood. Our earliest memories are indeed the most impressionable to us. Children surrounded with books, globes, and maps of the world have a greater chance of early intellectual immersion. A world of total convenience has turned us into creatures of vanity. When something is easy and accessible, there is this underlying reticence to absorb its knowledge.

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A case for light rail

By Omar Alansari-Kreger

Who wants to waste away idling in traffic after waiting through three traffic light cycles at a highway intersection?

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Out on the roads, Minnesota nice turns to Minnesota ice. Year after year, more people take to the roads in cars that consume finite resources leaving behind nothing but non-renewable waste. Little is done to investigate and expand alternatives to the car culture. In the Twin Cities, outside the core inner city area, it becomes quite the challenge to have life without the car. The suburbs are a case in point. They were made and inspired by and for the car culture. It should be no surprise why to most Americans, convenience is measured in miles as opposed to blocks. We are generally inclined to accept the car culture as an unavoidable fact of life. Car ownership is best defined as costly arriving at a great economic burden to the average American. This is especially true to those of us living strictly on borrowed credit or from paycheck-to-paycheck.

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Promoting the faculty of reason

By Omar Alansari-Kreger

Rage is an unhealthy agent for change because it fails to deliver ideas that make renewals, reformations, and renaissances possible.

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Youth reminds us of the long lost idealisms we once had. Too much reality will make one cynical which ruins visions that support a better world. Protesters gather in the streets by the millions worldwide knowing little about what they are protesting. Our time is consumed with obsessions drawn over shallow concepts of self. Support of a cause is supposed to provide vindication for a purposeful life. It is based on a theoretical assumption that things will come to pass because we are in immediate need of them. Few exercise any interest whatsoever in critical thinking in order to fully grasp the basis of a cause and what it entails.

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The value of the Little Free Library

By Omar Alansari-Kreger

A culture of ignorance is preserved through the refutation of knowledge, just as a culture of knowledge is preserved through the refutation of ignorance.

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What is the best way to counter ignorance in an Age of Insanity? Decades ago, whoever thought that bastions of information would be largely ignored and neglected by the masses? We are all too accustomed to googling our curiosities into thin air without grounding our inquiries in something substantial. This is indicative of a dystopian world that was predicted by Aldous Huxley about a century ago. His was a reality in which libraries would be teeming with books but few exercise any desire to read them. A world where books are viewed as decorative artifacts and not as resources for enlightenment.

Shortly after moving into the Longfellow neighborhood of south Minneapolis, I started to notice miniature library stands, known as “Little Free Libraries,” displayed on the front lawns of various houses. As a direct result, a trend was created and local businesses combined with community centers to begin adopting them. They are now commonplace and seem to have caught on in the suburbs. Whenever I encounter a free library stand, I cannot help wondering what it contains. It’s hit-or-miss. A pessimist could be inclined to dismiss the effort altogether by brushing them off as a repository of dime novels, nothing more.

Continue reading at Star Tribune..

Omar Alansari-Kreger, of Minneapolis, is a Muslim-American, a writer, and a social activist.

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Decline of the great American experiment

By Omar Alansari-Kreger, Engage Minnesota

When vanity overtakes liberty, the concept of freedom becomes nothing more than a fairy tale.

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What if you woke up one day and realized that your nation and way of life were nothing but lies? Everyone seems oblivious to the obvious. We carry ourselves as drones mesmerized by promises that never bear long term fruit. In the United States, freedom is sold as an element interchangeable with our national identity. It is widely believed there is no other nation in the world that enjoys the same degree of freedom and liberty. The fact of the matter is that as a nation, the United States is based on a timeless idea. Naturally, we carry a great sense of hope in the maximization of our shared potential. The basis of which has evolved into the multicultural edifice of the nation. Definitively, what did the United States mean to our founding fathers? Did they imagine that three hundred years after the invention of the Great American Experiment it would become the world’s premier empire? Each generation is tasked to relearn and redefine the ideals of its past.

There is this assumption that history has a mind of its own and that in one way or another, it is bound to be repeated. Ironically, the United States has transformed into that same monolithic edifice its founding fathers sought to defeat.

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Adopt refugees, children, & families fleeing war to make worlds of difference

By Omar Alansari-Kreger, Engage Minnesota

Rather than focusing on simply raising awareness on the pain and suffering of persons displaced by war, why not take one step further? What if families across Minnesota were encouraged to adopt refugees and displaced persons from around the world as their own?

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Look around the Twin Cities and you will find highway billboards with pictures featuring sad-looking dogs. An appeal is made to the inner humanitarian in us all to act on an injustice. The world is becoming an inferno with no end to the madness. In Syria, Aleppo was recently recaptured by forces loyal to a tyrannical war criminal, yet we continue to stand idle as atrocities unfold on our newsfeeds. Women, children, and the elderly made a last chance escape out of Aleppo hoping to find sanctuary in neighboring Turkey. The sad truth is that a great deal of Syrian civilians will never make it to safe ground under an unrelenting clout of civil war. Here is a proposition we should all consider, what if those highway billboard signs began featuring the tearful faces of Syrian children in addition to other war-battered peoples? On the surface, the main idea would be directed toward raising awareness generally.

Nowadays, it is all too easy to block out a world of sad, but inconvenient truths. We have the ability to remove, block out, and unsubscribe from trends that are unsettling to us. That is nothing but selective attention which desensitizes us to a reality of ominous truths. Rather than focusing on simply raising awareness on the pain and suffering of persons displaced by war, why not take one step further? What if families across Minnesota were encouraged to adopt refugees and displaced persons from around the world as their own? Does such a proposition carry too much controversial baggage? It is all too sensible to argue that human lives are invaluable; therefore, society should mirror that all too universal standard. There are many different ways to adopt refugees and displaced persons fleeing war zones. There is the traditional method of direct adoption; this is where one child or family is brought into the United States through programs of state-sanctioned sponsorship.

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Localizing the rule of law to end Syria’s civil war

By Omar Alansari-Kreger, Engage Minnesota

Here is a proposition well worth considering: what if a moderate majority rebellion unified around a cause based on universal respect for the rule of law?

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What is the best way to achieve a practical peace in a seemingly endless conflict? The Syrian Civil War continues unabated with no hindrances. The more information obtained, the more perplexing its reality. In Syria, each faction has paramilitaries that allege loyalty to a sectarian cause. Alliances are made with foes in order to marginalize a common enemy for tactical gain; hence, the battle lines are always changing. The carnage of Syria’s Civil War has proven one thing: there are no winners, only losers. Assad’s regime claims to be waging a war against foreign terrorism. Its campaign is best rendered as one of wonton repression that accepts nothing but unquestioned loyalty to the regime. There will never be a lasting peace under policies of state-sponsored terrorism. Torture combined with a longing for retribution is preserved by a thirst for revenge; both are timeless and destructive.

As an outsider looking into the Pandora’s Box of the Syrian Civil War, I cannot help but to feel overwhelmed by the plethora of informational resources that compete over its portrayal. It seems that each source is fighting its own war of legitimacy only to leave an observer lost and disillusioned with the facts as they are. Complexity is achieved through the diversity of opinions. It becomes highly unfathomable to imagine a world without either.  A man can make an opinion just as opinions make men, but are opinions alone truly indicative of intelligence, impartiality, and reason? Each perspective that has covered the Syrian Civil War is exclusively motivated by its own narrative.

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Refugees, an undeniable element of the American dream

By Omar Alansari-Kreger, Engage Minnesota

It seems rather reasonable to argue the United States owes the millions of people it has displaced, directly or indirectly, amnesty through a program of refugee resettlement.

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Wherever there are immigrants, there are refugees. The United States is a nation of immigrants, but is it also a nation of refugees? The Puritans were one of the earliest European settlers that arrived in the New World. They fled the Old World to escape bigotry and persecution for their beliefs. They found solace at Plymouth Rock because it offered a place free of bigoted persecution. Therefore, would that make the Puritans America’s first major batch of refugees? At the time, issues surrounding the drama of immigration were not there because as a nation, the United States was nonexistent.

It cannot be stressed enough. The United States is a nation built on the bedrock of immigration. It can be argued that every major wave of immigrants were the refugees of their time. They escaped subsistence by means of serfdom. The foundation of the nation is supported by the promise of providence; a staple of the American Dream. The United States is a grand experiment ceaselessly working toward its optimization. It is the civic responsibility of every generation to impartially define the American Dream. Each definition can be used as an existential nuance to repatriate its foundations to the present.

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Academia, a World of Rude Awakenings

By Omar Alansari-Kreger, Engage Minnesota

Is the core curriculum offered at colleges and universities changing so much as to necessitate an aggressive rise in annual academic tuition?.

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During an interview on Errol Morris’s First Person, Christopher Langan, a man reported to have the world’s highest IQ at over 200, described academia to be a cold and heartless bureaucracy. “A breeding ground for parrots,” he exclaimed! Year-by-year, tuition continues to skyrocket with no end in sight. According to statistics collected from the website collegedata.com, the annual cost of private college tuition in 2016 stood at an average of $32,405. For state residents enrolled at public universities, the average cost was marked at $9,410 annually. Finally, for out of state residents attending public universities, the total cost for one year’s worth of education approached $23,894. Such figures are rather overwhelming which leads to a critical objection which arrives in the form of a question: how does academia justify the soaring cost of academic tuition? Is the core curriculum offered at colleges and universities changing so much as to necessitate an aggressive rise in annual academic tuition?

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Embracing altruism beyond pessimism

By Omar Alansari-Kreger, Engage Minnesota

The reality is that it only takes a relatively minor concentration of altruism to effectuate a world of difference.

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It’s all too normal to feel like the smallest person in the world after watching the evening news. No matter what resource we use to obtain knowledge about the outside world, we often walk away with a sick feeling in our stomachs. That is especially true of a world overridden with unprecedented strife and hardship. To the average lower middle-class citizen, there is a million dollar question that runs through the mind: do I have the power to change anything? We often rebuke the world by dismissing it outright. When a concerned citizen gives up on the prospect of a better world, hope is replaced by shallow pessimisms. The fact of the matter is that no price can be paid to the experiential pain and suffering of the human condition. The rationalization of an atrocity is often weighted in its material cost. It is naively presumed that the only resource required is a bottomless void of money to make anything possible. The reality is that resources alone do not effectuate changes in an otherwise adverse world; that is especially true of money.

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Unity, an Unfortunate Deficit of Minnesota Muslims

By Omar Alansari-Kreger, Engage Minnesota

Great efforts have been made and initiatives launched, but how successful have such undertakings been in marshaling a greater Muslim identity across the Twin Cities?

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We all have day jobs. It is a fact of life. In order to survive, one must work to sustain a living. We sacrifice a great deal for our day jobs. A great proportion of our true identity is misplaced only to be frozen on the sidelines. As a professional that specializes in caring for the elderly and developmentally challenged, there is one crucial fact of life I take home each day: the best things in life are free. Sundays are special to people that grew up under the Judeo-Christian tradition. They share a great reverence for their communities. In their company, I have noticed a unique willingness to share the burden of the communal blunt when faced with hardships.

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A Science Library for North Minneapolis

By Omar Alansari-Kreger, Engage Minnesota

An eager intellect is a prospect of hope. It scoffs at the predetermined odds and looks to a world of what could be.

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Behind every great community, there is an intellectual center. Youths entertain grand imaginations that tempt the known boundaries. An adult reality is bland. It is defined by the monotony of routine. Gradually, we misplace our hopes and curiosities for complacency and acceptance. An ominous gatekeeper rules over each boundary with little to no empathy. A person is labeled as expendable and is rapidly dispensed with. Will our resolve be sincere to our youths? What happens when youths are cut down and put in their “respective places” in society? Will hopeful dreams and ambitions be rendered illusory once such an ominous reality comes to pass? The need for a science library may seem abundantly extraneous to many. If we budgeted enough tax revenue for a billion dollar football stadium, why is a science library for less than a quarter of a million dollars unconscionable to us? It then becomes pertinent to ask ourselves an existential question: as a society, where are our priorities?

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Costs & Conflicts of Assimilation

By Omar Alansari-Kreger, Engage Minnesota

Be one of us or one of them.

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Assimilation is a difficult thing to experience. Some choose to live insular lives which leaves very little room for external engagement. As a matter of principle, the ways of the old world are traditionally followed without question. The children of refugees find themselves in a very difficult position. There is this underlying belief suggesting that a way of life must be chosen. Either embrace the ways of the old world or become part of the new. That decision carries with it a weighty proposition. For a great deal of expatriated youths living across the United States, there is this feeling that a choice must be made between parents and their external surroundings. For example, parental refugees may choose to maintain minimal proficiency with the English language in addition to their newly acquired surroundings. Their children generally function as bridges which assist in overcoming barriers of language and culture. That eventually leads to a conflict of interest which materializes in a clash of ideas.

Youths experience a world that is fundamentally different from that of their elders. Such conflicts originate from cauldrons that brew oppositional antagonisms with old world traditions. An ongoing trend among refugees finds a need to keep assimilative forces at an arm’s length. The rationale behind that is supported by an analogy of fear.

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Does Our Opinion Matter?

By Omar Alansari-Kreger, Engage Minnesota

Renewing the Freedom of Speech against an Unforgiving Status Quo

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We live in a nation that prides itself on the freedom of speech. Yet, we pay nothing but lip service to the first amendment. That fact of the matter is that if you are outside of the elite establishment, no one really cares about your opinion or what you have to say for the matter. The Plutocratic States of America is the giant elephant no one wants to recognize. Citizens are free to have opinions, but if they are unredeemable, what good are there? We might as well have no opinion whatsoever. Arguably, that can explain why apathy is the new cultural norm. Information surrounds us everywhere we look. In the “free world,” accessibility to information is no longer an issue. It has actually transformed into an open source of vanity. We hold naïve expectations about humanity which teases us with perfectionism.

There is this presumption that more information means more intelligence.

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What Merits the Value of an Opinion?

By Omar Alansari-Kreger, Engage Minnesota

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Philosophy began as an opinion. In a free society, we are taught that our ideas matter. A person is given every reason to have an opinion without actually understanding what it means to have one. History is taken from the irony of the human experience. We constantly find ourselves at a crossroads. What can bring good brings bad. It is in our nature to justify our shortcomings through pitfalls of circumstance. A question of intentionality prosecutes the reason for action. As humans, it is in our nature to pursue avenues of recognition. A life deprived of meaning is an alibi to depression.

Wherever we look, there is information. It is not possible to avoid it anymore. For that reason, ignorance is increasingly becoming a matter of choice. Time again, we choose ignorance over intelligence without asking ourselves why. A margin of human error implies that perfection is illusory. We foolishly look for philosophies of perfection. The slightest form of error is enough to destroy hope in a better tomorrow. It can therefore be argued that ideas are as fragile as they are frugal. We sparingly attribute faith to an idea in anticipation of inevitable disappointment. That is indicative of man’s selfish inner narrative.

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Race relations and protest: Do something of impact with your white privilege

By Omar Alansari-KregerStar Tribune

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In this day and age, the idea of white privilege is many things. As far as Blacks Lives Matter is concerned, if you are white, you are guilty. Make no mistake about it: The U.S. is a nation of deep contradictions. We have a hard time wrestling with the legacy of the past. Despite the deinstitutionalization of state-sponsored racism, people of color — African-Americans in particular — remain marginalized. Needless to say, the people of white privilege have not been silent about this sordid state of affairs. It seems that some of the most vocal supporters of Black Lives Matter are whites burdened with white privilege.

Something needs to be done about this sorry state of reality. However, the problem begins with the same group of whites that proclaim to care so much about black lives. It is all too ironic. The people of white privilege arrive to protest in areas that are far removed from the places where the actual hardships are. There is nothing more hypocritical than white people emerging from newly gentrified areas by way of the car culture. How is that not associable as a double whammy of white privilege rolled into one hypocritical thing? What does the average person of white privilege have in common with African-Americans, in addition to all other people of color?

Continue reading at Star Tribune.

Omar Alansari-Kreger, of Minneapolis, is a Muslim-American, a writer and a social activist.

WANT TO ADD YOUR VOICE?

If you like this piece, share it on social media.  We invite you to join us in this project on our social media sites.  We welcome your voice to the Comment section below — or consider writing a commentary, podcast or photo story. (For more information, email engageminnesota@gmail.com.)

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