Who is Steven Sias?
Steven Sias was born and raised in Lakeview, MI in the 1960s and 70s. He served in the military and since then has worked a variety of jobs, including for the Arizona Boys Camp, a biomass power plant in California as well as on a government contract in Pueblo, Colorado. He and his family (wife and sons) moved to Cheyenne partially because of how friendly it was, though he currently lives alone. He is active at the Cheyenne Veterans Affairs Medical Center. Steven was raised Roman Catholic, but currently attends Saints Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Church.
Excerpt from interview with Steven Sias by Whitney Dow, 2018
Sias: [01:08:58] Yes, I’m sorry. The Muslim whether you want to call it faith, ideology, wherever, depending upon where you’re at in that whole conversation, it’s a very tough conversation for us here in America right now, because a lot of that conversation—for me, it’s hard because I’m an Orthodox Christian, or a Christian as a whole. I don’t like see what’s happening as far as Christian persecution. And you can go back to the Crusades and get all involved in trying to bring that conversation forward. But a lot of the Muslim conversation in America is being projected onto the black community, because that’s where a lot of the Muslim ideology and faith is—I would say it’s ending up in that community. It’s being somewhat, in my personal opinion, it’s being forced into that community, just because of people looking for their historical roots. And I think a lot of the youth are looking for something that they don’t really know what they’re looking for, and sometimes those things, when you take something like an ideology and a faith, and it doesn’t have a history behind it, and you give it to a young kid, it can become a bad thing. And we see that in different parts of the world.
Q: Well, how do you feel about the Muslim religion?
Sias: [01:10:47] From what I’ve learned, from what I’ve studied, as being a white male Christian, having served in the military, [pause] I have a big problem with that, with the type of people— With the Muslims being brought into this country, which I think can help us all grow, but in turn, you don’t see that same type of immigration happening in their cultures. And our whether you want to call it white male culture really isn’t being allowed into their world, except on a corporate level, whether it’s the oil industry, the automotive industry, which is helping their culture progress, but they don’t see it that way, or at least not from my experience. From the experiences I’ve had with Muslims on the West Coast, with the experiences I’ve had with working with Muslims on a government contract down in the Pueblo area, with the Muslims that I have experienced in the entire 1980s period over in what was Western [West] Germany at the time. There were Muslims who had emigrated there. And watching how that has changed their culture dramatically— They used to call it the great American melting pot. Now it’s where we want to bring these people in, and it’s like we want you all to change to them. No, the American experiment is still going on, but don’t force us to assimilate to that. I think they have a responsibility to figure out their place in American society amongst all of us. People came here from all over the world, and I think up to a certain point we did a pretty good job of learning how to all get along, or at least avoid each other and [laughs] go to our neutral corners and stay there, and we’re not doing that anymore. People are baiting that, and it’s in a very unhealthy way.
Q2: A lot of citizens who are opposed to Muslims from Iraq, Syria, and those areas—mostly Iraq and Syria—coming over here, there’s a lot of opposition to that, but it’s directly our fault that those people are wanting to come here, or to want to—
Sias: [01:22:22] To me, I think we’re doing a lousy job of resettling them. We’re resettling them in an unhealthy way. We’re not resettling them and helping them assimilate into communities. First of all, there’s a language barrier, which I think we could be doing a lot better with. Finding communities that are open to sitting down with people, and having a conversation, so that we don’t all go forward in ignorance, because that’s a lot of what’s going on right now. I mean, if you expect— And I’m sure that you and I have probably both served with men and women who probably, we’ll say, are going to lean toward the ignorant side, and it’s like, “All bad, all good, because we came from the States, they’re over here in the sandlot.” No.
We need to get better at talking to people again. We’re so busy doing this [mimics typing on cell phone], and our kids, they lack practical communication skills on any level, especially when it comes to listening. We used to teach active listening skills, and we don’t anymore. And it’s never going to get better, we’re never going to make it better, if we all don’t start trying again, and trying simply happens with a cup of coffee with your neighbor. In my hometown, I could still tell you the same two places it happens. I could tell you the places in this community. And I’ll still tell you the best cup of coffee you can get in town is at my house because the conversation’s better [laughs]. But I enjoy learning about people. I enjoy learning about myself, you know. And sometimes what really hurts us is our own ignorance, because we’re not willing to learn, and if we don’t learn, we don’t grow, and it all dies on the vine.