Don’t agree but respect the decision

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We are near the end of our 15th year as a monthly magazine. I sometimes can’t believe it myself. At the start, I never really thought about the paper’s longevity. We have gone through challenges and triumphs in the world and inside our own business. During that time, my life has changed so much over the years.

Those who know me, know how much I love this magazine. I birthed it and it has very much been like a child to me.

So, when I have been attacked, talked about and targeted by a few people, it has drained me at times. It hasn’t and will NEVER break me, however.

I know there are “haters” as much I am not a fan of that term and perhaps people who just don’t like me. I remind myself that it’s really none of my business what people think of me. It’s between them and God.

I have to admit, I was insulted when there have been concerted efforts to minimize or completely delete my contributions to this magazine. Books were written about the community and everyone worthy of being noted was noted for his or her contributions except me. Somehow, I was conveniently eliminated by name as a founder of the Chaldean News.

I have my suspicions as to who was behind those tactics but I will let God deal with them. I know it may sound petty but at the end of the day, it’s about respect. You don’t have to like me, but I can’t tolerate being disrespected.

Looking back over the years, I realize I may be a little too attached to this “thing.”

It’s not my Savior and it’s not even my child. Regardless of the credit I get or not, I know that I have done my best to do the right thing when it comes to producing this paper. I am a journalist by trade and someone trained to seek truth. I take it seriously despite where the media is today. I feel I have a huge responsibility with this paper. I thought about this the other day during a homily at St. Fabian. The guest priest talked about people who are in the spotlight or in what are considered “prestigious” positions. The outside world sees the glory but they never see the struggle that comes with it.

There are days I wish I flew under the radar and lived my life in my own little world with no one knowing me at all. I am far from “famous” but when your name is attached to anything in the public eye, you are automatically up for scrutiny. That includes something as simple as having a Facebook page.

I have always tried to honor the church and my faith on these pages, even though this paper is NOT a religious publication. It is very much, however, a community paper. We have made mistakes along the way – like all humans do – and we have published pieces that we all don’t agree with in terms of opinion.

Although I have already made note of this in a previous issue, my biggest regret thus far was publishing the article about the gay twin brothers, not because of the issue of homosexuality but because of their ongoing social media posts that are not only risqué, but completely offensive to the church. If properly vetted prior, we would not have given them a platform. In addition, Fr. Matthew was not properly quoted, which is another issue.

Our faith and the church have always been a foundational focal point of the community even though it is believed that less than 20 percent of community members attend church.

It is mind boggling and disheartening when people decide not to share stories in this publication because they don’t agree with everything we write. So, would you not tell your story or evangelize the faith in the Detroit Free Press, USA Today, New York Times, CNN or other secular media outlets if you had the opportunity?

It’s a worthy debate. A question we posed to Bishop Francis for this month’s cover story.

The Pope, Bishops and other religious leaders have done stories in all kinds of publications around the world that publish stories in complete opposition of the faith. Did Jesus not come for the tax collectors and sinners?

I have had this discussion with other religious writers and speakers over the years. Some of my colleagues in the religious media have been tapped to appear on Oprah or The View but because of what those programs have featured and highlighted over the years, they hesitated. The View, for instance, gives conservatives very little air time or opportunity to speak truth. They just scream over them or at them. That is worth taking into consideration.

One of the most far left papers – The New York Times – publishes a column from a Catholic columnist. Catholic radio says on their website, “Ross Douthat is one of the brightest Catholic columnists in America.”

Years ago, a friend and former colleague in the media called me because her husband had an opportunity to work at the New York Times. As devout Catholics, she was concerned. I told her if he could do good and be “the voice of contradiction” as I have been challenged to do by my spiritual advisor, then he should go for it. If his integrity or faith is ever compromised, then he should challenge them or leave.

Unlike other media outlets, The Chaldean News has dedicated hundreds of pages on the church. We have featured faith stories on the cover and throughout the magazine.

All three publishers, Mike, Martin and I have volunteered our time in various ways for the church and community because we believe it’s the right thing to do.

I respect people’s personal decisions and viewpoints. It is my understanding that some believe being in our paper is somehow endorsing us and all of our content. I don’t agree with that opinion, but I respect the decision.

Alaha Imid Koullen

(God Be With Us All)

Vanessa Denha-Garmo

Follow her on Twitter @vanessadenha

Follow Chaldean News on Twitter @chaldeannews