There is much controversy concerning the building of a Mosque on private property near the site of 9/11.
I just wouldn't be me if I didn't weigh in on this subject and share my personal insights on this subject.
First, I believe that there are radicals in all religions and cultures.
Before we get our panties in a wad over this, we should also consider the fact that there are many believers - of all faiths - who are not radical or violent in their beliefs. This includes Muslims. I should also point out that it is unlikely that the building of a Mosque - anywhere in our country - will develop such radicals. I believe that these radicals are not the result of religious freedom, but the result of many factors, including underemployment, lack of education/miss education and are therefore highly suseptable to radically negative influences. It is also true for religious radicals who call themselves Christian. Does anyone who is Christian really want to be affiliated with radicals who misconstrue things to meet their own objectives?
The fear of the unknown....The flip side of fear is anger.
The 9/11 attacks were horrific and tragic. I myself remember crying over and over. I remember the quiet understanding between strangers, the random acts of kindness in our city and the gathering of strangers on the campus to share in process of grief and healing.
I also recall feeling very angry and upset at the situation - at not knowing all of the details and not being able to fly to NYC and help with the rescue efforts. I remember crying for the people who were lost and most of all, for the families they left behind. But what I can say, is that there have been many opportunities for me to look at this and learn that retaliation is not the same as reconsiliation.
Just because we don't understand Islam, we fear it. In addition, we have enjoyed a great deal of peace and safety in our country. We fear the unknown. We wonder, will this happen again? Are we putting ourselves at risk? We don't know the answers. They are unkown. Therefore, we can think to ourselves, I don't know what this is, I am afraid of what this is and therefore, it must be bad. All of this makes me angry. That is not the solution.
People are always people first.
Their religion is just a hat that they wear. It is their actions that define them, i.e. the stand that they take. In the case of radicals, yes we should be cautious and take actions accordingly. However, if our actions define us, then we should also consider all of the peaceloving people in our country who also happen to believe in Islam. They are people just like you and me. They have feelings, they work, they worry for their children, they pay taxes and they die, just like you and me.
I might also add that I would consider one of my Muslim friends to be the most lovely and knowledgeable citizen I know. She was a refugee when she was a child and has grown up in our country. She is an amazing mother and a kind woman. She is also a kind friend. She treats others with respect, and despite the fact that before I knew her, I had no idea what Ramadan was, she never treated me differently than her other friends. Just because her beliefs are different than mine should not exclude her from practicing her beliefs in this country. In fact, this country has cut its teeth on defending religious freedom.
Education and Understanding Erradicate Fear
We as Americans have been spoiled by Media conglomerates such as Fox and CNN and have forgotten how to read, how to look for additional information and how to think for ourselves! May we all use our heads and hearts and not count on the talking heads to make our decisions for us.Please people, watch the BBC, listen to NPR, read a variety of periodicals and do your research with many different sources.
This is a valuable opportunity to educate ourselves, support the famililes of the victims of 9/11 in a loving and non-confrontational way, while also upholding the tenets of our country. Let's put our heads together to figure this one out! People can get along and they've done it before. For example, in Newport, the first Quaker Meeting house as built across the street from the nation's oldest Tavern...in the same community, the first Catholic Church was built (the one that Jackie and JFK share their vows in) and it also happens to be the home of the oldest Jewish Synagogue in our country. We can all live in peace and support eachother in our differences! Let's create an opportunity for COMMUNITY out of this very controversial situation.