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Sholeh Patrick uplifts humanrights in column

by Kaye Hult

  

With her “pen,” Sholeh Patrick seeks to challenge readers to expand their thinking on topics related to human and civil rights.

Sholeh Patrick
Sholeh Patrick

For 13 years, she has written a free-lance column for the Coeur d’Alene Press to invite compassion and the ability to see someone else for a moment, to understand what it’s like to walk in another’s shoes.

Recognizing that her use of the pen is mightier than the sword, the Kootenai County Task Force on Human Relations presented her with one of two 2015 Civil Rights Awards at its April 13 Human Rights Banquet. The other recipient was Bill Morlin, former Spokesman-Review journalist and reporter for the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Recently, Sholeh has written about Jesuits and other Catholic orders, sex trafficking, variations in Sharia and Islam, the impossibility of living on minimum wage, atheism, Hinduism, symbolic meaning of the animals of the Chinese zodiac calendar and Irish influence on English language.

Just as she “fell into” journalism, she “fell into” being a columnist.  She saw an article in the Coeur d’Alene Press and felt compelled to reply—the only letter to the editor she has written. 

Editor Mike Patrick ran it as a guest opinion and invited her to write a column, which she has done since 2002.  She writes two  columns a week and other articles for publications of the Hagadone News Network.  She chooses her topics.  Sholeh and Mike married in 2003.

“I’m not an expert on anything,” she said.  “If I find common threads with what’s going on locally, I try to address that.” 

She keeps focusing on her belief that, at the core, every human being is the same, and everyone wants to be loved.

“We become mired in our fears,” she said. “This leads to insecurity, pain and prejudice.”

Sholeh likes historical fiction.  Through it, she has become aware that people take much for granted today compared to times when life was more difficult.

“Abuse used to be more common.  People lived shorter lives.  Less than 100 years ago, no one would raise large amounts of money to give to a stranger,” she said, referring to what is happening in Coeur d’Alene since one of the city’s police officers was shot.

“We do not hear as much good news as previously,” she said, pointing out that national media outlets once found good news sold more than it seems to now. 

Sholeh has Persian ancestry.  Her father is Iranian. Her mother comes from Oklahoma and Wyoming.  Born in New York, she spent much of her early childhood in Iran, coming to the United States for good when she was 10 years old.

From then on through college she mostly lived in Texas.  She earned a bachelor’s in international studies in 1988 at the University of St. Thomas in Houston.

“I thought about writing as a child.  I wrote for university journals in both my undergraduate and graduate schools,” she said of becoming a journalist. 

Sholeh was managing editor of the law journal at South Texas College of Law, where she earned her J.D. degree in 1997, focusing in international law and trade.

She learned that, while she enjoys pure research and writing, she does not enjoy practicing law.

Going to law school made her “a fast researcher,” she said.  “I learned where to look.  I have some regular resources I start with when preparing a column.”

In 1999, she followed her family to North Idaho.  Since then, she worked as a lobbyist for the Coeur d’Alene Chamber of Commerce and in the local office of then-Congressman Butch Otter.

When she wrote her letter to the editor, she was working at North Idaho College in public relations.

Over the years, Sholeh received other awards:  the Associated Press Columnist Award in 2004, the State of Idaho Media Award for Mental Health in 2006, and the Diakonia of North Idaho and Peace Coeur d’Alene Peace Award in 2010.

Column topics sometimes stem from her spiritual convictions.  Her mother, a Catholic, and her father, an agnostic from a Muslim country, let her find her own way spiritually.  She attended Mass with her mother as a child.  Her grandmother and other relatives taught her Muslim prayers.

“When I was eight, learning Muslim prayer, I began to think about religious questions,” said Sohleh, who has gone to services of many faiths. 

“Whenever I encounter another religion, I learn as much as I can about it.  I’ve been to Jewish temple and attended different types of Christian churches.  Buddhism resonates most with me.

“I have found beauty and truth in every religion so far,” she said.

“I am not a religious person,” she continued.  “I am not a one-path person.  In all religions, I have found that participants are not uniform in what they believe.  If we can understand each other, then we’ll fear each other less and want to help each other more.  There will be less prejudice.”

Sholeh’s articles often elicit letters to the editor.  Many support her point of view.  Many disagree with what she has had to say.  

“The good always seems to outweigh the harsh,” she said.  “I think most people out there are trying to be kind, even when they disagree.

“I’m still learning and looking.  Hopefully we keep growing until we die,” she said.

For information, call 208-664-8176 or email Sholeh@cdapress.com.





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