More

Fear is powerful. So are doughnuts. Here's how one woman is using them.

'I went in with a super open heart, with a super open mind, and just let happen what was going to happen.'

Fear is powerful. So are doughnuts. Here's how one woman is using them.

This is Mona Haydar. Care for a doughnut? Cup of coffee?

Photo from Mona Haydar, used with permission.


Earlier this month, in response to some anti-Muslim rhetoric that's been making the rounds, she decided to set up shop outside a Cambridge, Massachusetts, library to offer up some free coffee, doughnuts, and conversation.

"Today I stepped out of my comfort zone and stood out in a public space holding a box of donuts in front of signs that my husband Sebastian made," she wrote on her Facebook wall.

The response from the people who stopped to talk to her was overwhelming — in a good way.

"Everyone who stopped to talk to us was so kind and sweet," she wrote. "'Thanks for doing this' was the most common comment and often followed by, 'I'm sorry about what's happening in our country right now. It makes me so sad.' One woman was on the verge of tears and wanted to know when we were coming back so she could bring a box of donuts for us to give out."

"What's happening in our country" is scary.

Ever since the attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, life has become increasingly difficult for Muslims like Mona. Anti-Islamic sentiment is running rampant; with mosques burning and regular, everyday people being stalked by armed "protesters," it's bad news.

Armed protesters stage a demonstration in front of the Islamic Association of North Texas at the Dallas Central Mosque on Dec. 12, 2015, in Richardson, Texas. Photo by John Moore/Getty Images.

But Mona's determined to not let fear win.

And that starts with education.

"Initially, I thought I was going to get a lot of negativity, we were going to face a lot of Islamophobia. And I was going into it with that mindset," Mona told NPR. "Then I decided, you know what, I really can't do this if I'm expecting people to be negative. Because I'm not a negative person. I'm a super bubbly, happy person. I'm really friendly, I'm really nice, I'm really smiley; why should I expect anything less from other folks?"

Photo from Mona Haydar, used with permission.

In addition to answering people's questions in person, she fielded some questions over on her Facebook page as well.

One person asked for clarifications about sections of the Quran that call for violence.

Mona replied:

"I believe in Love and a God who inspires me to Love more deeply and more compassionately! Thanks for asking!"

Another asked why Muslim leaders "aren't doing more to end the violence/thinking of the radical members of your religion who believe in all the killing/terrorism?"

Mona answered:

"I'm not seeing a good answer for that either! But since most Muslims are normal and super nonviolent, we can't very well just bomb them ... that's kind of counter productive because that's what they're doing, bombing people I mean. I believe in Love! And [the] power of Love! I truly believe that when we move from a place of Love, we can collectively heal the hurt in the world! I don't mean it in any kind of abstract way. I mean it in a brain power, centering all our brain function, all the time creating new neural pathways and synaptic responses of LOVE!"

Another asked how non-Muslims can help break down the rough climate they find themselves in.

Mona wrote:

"We're doing all the goodness right now by having this conversation and inviting more love into our lives. That's all you and I have control over right now and if we can help ourselves embody and be LOVE then this love will heal the world! I agree! Make love! Not war!"


Photo from Mona Haydar, used with permission.

Of course, Mona can't speak for all Muslims — but that's kind of the point.

Her personal interpretation of her religion may not perfectly align with someone else's. The problem is that, too often, we look at the acts of a few and attribute them to an entire group of people. ISIS doesn't speak for all Muslims any more than the Westboro Baptist Church or Army of God speak for all Christians. We can't be so afraid and distrusting of one another. That's not what this country is supposed to stand for.

Don't give in to hate. Don't give in to fear. Pull up a chair and have a cup of coffee with someone who believes in something different from you; you'll be surprised what you can learn.

True

When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."

Vanna White appeared on "The Price Is Right" in 1980.

Vanna White has been a household name in the United States for decades, which is kind of hilarious when you consider how she gained her fame and fortune. Since 1982, the former model and actress has made millions walking back and forth turning letters (and later simply touching them—yay technology) on the game show "Wheel of Fortune."

That's it. Walking back and forth in a pretty evening gown, flipping letters and clapping for contestants. More on that job in a minute…

As a member of Gen X, television game shows like "Wheel of Fortune" and "The Price is Right" send me straight back to my childhood. Watching this clip from 1980 of Vanna White competing on "The Price is Right" two years before she started turning letters on "Wheel of Fortune" is like stepping into a time machine. Bob Barker's voice, the theme music, the sound effects—I swear I'm home from school sick, lying on the ugly flowered couch with my mom checking my forehead and bringing me Tang.

This video has it all: the early '80s hairstyles, a fresh-faced Vanna White and Bob Barker's casual sexism that would never in a million years fly today.

Keep Reading Show less