The Marginalized Loving and Protecting Those Who Differ from Us

My name is Walid. I go by Wes.

I immigrated to the United States from Lebanon when I was fourteen. I am forty-one now. On a recent trip to New York, a Nepali taxi driver asked me if I was ever discriminated against. I can honestly answer no, I do not feel discriminated against. Rather, I have been embraced by the people of this great nation. To every fellow American, I offer my heartfelt affection for welcoming me here.

But why don’t I go by my real name? Walid.

marginalized

At my clinics, people call me Dr. W. Other people in my life call me Wes, and still others, simply W. My wife, my family, and a few close friends call me Walid.

Like many immigrants can attest, it becomes burdensome to be asked, “How do you say your name?” “How do you spell your name?” “Where are you from?” At first, I am happy to answer. But when this happens throughout each day, I start to feel a bit different—like I am not like everyone else, maybe not even normal. Of course, people ask with all sincerity and as a way to connect with me. It’s not with ill-intent, but the frequency of these questions keeps my differences present in my mind.

Feeling Different

Over time, people who are aware of their differences may develop a fear of being stereotyped—lumped into a group and painted with a broad brush, oversimplified, and usually held in lower regard than others. Even though I have never had any inkling of being treated differently because of my ethnicity, it seems to be an inner-fear I have, a subtle guard to protect myself from harm.

Coming to the United States and being a part of this great experiment in freedom has been the biggest blessing of my life. Texas is my home. I have lived twice as long here than I have in my country of birth. I truly feel I am a part of this amazing nation. From the first day I arrived, I felt at home, and I still do. However, I also know what it means to feel different.

Feeling Embraced

When I came to the US as a teenager, we lived in Mobile, Alabama. I came directly from Beirut, Lebanon to Alabama! I loved the Deep South, and I loved Alabamians. They were so warm and friendly. Their southern drawl did not sound strange to me. It was my first introduction to spoken English. I was welcomed and embraced. I remember a young man in high school—with blonde hair and blue eyes—an outspoken, kind, fifteen year old who made a point to invite me to be his friend.

Feeling Out of Place

The language and jokes were a different matter. I could not speak English well, and the little English I knew was of the British flavor. When I finally got up the courage to ask a girl out, I said, “Can I telephone you?” She smiled and said, “Do you mean you want to hit me on the head with the telephone?” Funny! It makes me laugh now, but then, I just smiled at her because I did not know what else to say. I didn’t have a come back. I felt out of awkward and out of place.

Even in Lebanon, there were ways I didn’t quite fit in. In a mostly Muslim Middle East, my family was Christian. We lived in a large Catholic community in Lebanon, in which my family was evangelical. Not only that, my dad was an elder at our church. I went to a Catholic school because it was the best school my parents could afford to send me to. One time all of us had to go to confession, as Catholics do. I must have been ten, and I did not have the courage to tell the nun I was not Catholic and that I did not want to participate in that spiritual discipline. Compliantly, I knelt before the priest in the confessional and confessed to some little mischief, then the priest asked me to recite some prayers. I never told my parents.

Feeling Accepted

Now, I am an American doctor in Texas. As an entrepreneur, I own medical clinics and other businesses. I know how to lead people and look out for them. I also know how to stand up for myself. I know how to respond with respect for myself and for others. But there is a part of me who longs to be accepted, who notices my own differences at times. I believe this voice speaks to all of us to varying extents. Being so different, to the point you believe you are strange, is not an easy thing to contend with, even when you are welcomed with open arms. Even as you mature.

I hope these reflections of my experiences inspire others to feel normal, even when they feel different. Not judged. Not strange. Not forced to do something they don’t want to do, or believe in. Not ridiculed. Not marginalized as “less than.” I also hope my experiences lend me an extra measure of empathy and a place in the small majority, where I may offer grace and love to someone who feels like a minority. I want to intentionally show others the same warmth and welcoming that was offered to me on my journey.

As leaders, I hope all of us remember that those under our influence, especially the 10 year olds and 15 year olds, whether in age or ability, need our protection and our love. 

Your Friend,
Wes Saade MD Signature

For Further Reading:

Become a Leader Others Want to Come Alongside
First Blog: From the Heart

12 Comments
  • James O.
    Posted at 11:09h, 28 August Reply

    Awesome, thank you for your encouragement and commitment to be a blessing to so many people.

    • Wes Saade
      Posted at 22:51h, 14 September Reply

      Thank you dear pastor James! thank you for all your encouragement and support.

  • Mona Shorrosh
    Posted at 12:15h, 28 August Reply

    Enjoyed reading your article Dr Wes/Walid. I can relate since I came to this country about the same age as you from Lebanon ( a few months in Jordan first). Overall I have felt more accepted than not and thank you for reminding us that we need to extend the acceptance & love to others who have not felt accepted.

    I have been blessed to volunteer as a translator at ESL classes at one of our churches in Chattanooga where I get to meet people who feel different & trying to learn language, culture etc..I’m blessed to see Christian teachers extending God’s love to other people who are different from them. May God continues to bless you & your ministry w/Leadership whether speaking or writing, at your clinic & other ministries you are involved with. May God bless your wife also & rest of your family. Hopefully one of these days i’ll visit again and get to see you all.

    • Wes Saade
      Posted at 22:45h, 14 September Reply

      Thank you dear Mona for reading and commenting, and I agree with your thoughts. Yes, we would love to see you back in Texas! Come visit soon. Blessings to you and your family.

  • Desiree
    Posted at 07:36h, 01 September Reply

    Amazing bless you 😉

    • Wes Saade
      Posted at 22:50h, 14 September Reply

      Thank you Desiree! Blessings to you.

  • Meagan Barlow
    Posted at 18:13h, 01 September Reply

    Love it Dr W. You’re a great man!!! I’m glad you felt welcomed.I enjoyed workin with you, instead of for you.

    • Wes Saade
      Posted at 22:50h, 14 September Reply

      Thank you so much Meagan! I also enjoyed working WITH you. 🙂 Hope you are well.

  • Dawna Jennings
    Posted at 09:37h, 02 September Reply

    Dear Dr. Saade, Thank you for sharing your personal and heartfelt story. I have a tremendous amount of respect for you as a doctor and a person. You challenge yourself and others to be better each day and have always found the positive in life.

    As a nurse and business person I joyfully lead from the heart. Some days are more challenging than others, but every day is a rewarding gift that I embrace. I encourage, praise and model excellence and excitement to my team and others that I encounter. Humbly serving others and leading with a passion is my daily mission.

    Keep up the great work. I would enjoy hearing you present someday. Thank you for what you do to make our world a better place and for knowing passionate leadership is essential to success.

    With sincere regards, Dawna

    Dawna Jennings, RN, MSML, BSN

    • Wes Saade
      Posted at 22:49h, 14 September Reply

      Dear Dawna, wow, thank you so much for the kind words and for your generous support! You are an amazing leader whom I always learned from. With the warmest regards, Wes

  • Joseph Ghitis
    Posted at 18:04h, 02 September Reply

    Loved reading this, buddy! Saw the post on FB. Hope y’all are doing great.

    • Wes Saade
      Posted at 22:47h, 14 September Reply

      Thanks Joseph! I remember all the deep conversations we had when we were in med school. Cheers.

Post A Comment