Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Me, weighing in on the Cordoba House

Ok, here’s the thing about the Cordoba House, the proposed "mosque" near Ground Zero...

First of all, I have to wonder how many of the most embittered and outspoken critics of the Cordoba House, a proposed Islamic Center to be built two blocks from Ground Zero, even LIKE let alone have actually BEEN to New York City. (If they had they’d know that two blocks is like...practically another city) When I first moved there I was amazed, not just at the diversity, but at the ability of humans to coexist with such diversity. People who were from cultures and religions that were diametrically opposed sat next to each other on the subway, peacefully reading their newspaper in arabic or hebrew or chinese or whatever. I remember thinking the fact that the city hadn’t blown itself to tiny bits was a testament to human kind and it’s ability to tolerate someone who was VERY different, from you. I discovered that diversity and tolerance is what the big apple is all about--well, that and really great pizza. It gave me hope for us humans.

Second of all, over 50 Muslims lost their lives that day, and no, not I'm not including the highjackers. Included in that group is a young paramedic whose EMT bag was found next to his body underneath the rubble 6 months later. His family didn't know where he was that whole time because he wasn’t scheduled to work that day, but when he saw the need he went to help, and gave his life to do it.

Third of all, what WOULD Jesus do. We don’t get to pick and choose when we’re going to follow his creed. We shouldn’t do it just when it’s convenient or easy. He taught us “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you”. He taught that because he knew THAT was the only hope this world had. So I say it’s time to put your money where your WWJD jewelry is and honestly ask yourself what he would do.

Fourth, all Muslims are no more guilty for 9/11 that all Christians are for the Inquisition. I saw a sign that claimed it was like building a shrine to Hitler in Germany. Well, you could also say its like building a church with a big fat cross on it in the middle of Jerusalem - a city that suffered unspeakable injustice during the crusades.

And finally, all of the above doesn’t matter. What’s it to me if they build the center, or don’t. I didn’t loose someone that tragic day. Ultimately, I think it should be up to families of the victims. It should be up to the kid who will never know first hand his father’s smile, or the parents who still feel a gapping hole in their hearts, or the widower struggling daily to raise his children without their mother.

I think it should be up to them--seriously, let ‘em vote. They’re the ones who had to pay the price, not me and certainly not those spot light grabbing politicians and news pundits . And while I do feel a great deal of sympathy for them I won't presume to speak for them. To be honest with you, I can’t say I’d blame them if they didn’t want it. All good will and tolerance aside, that such faction could splinter from a religion....well, it isn’t new but it can be scary.

But wouldn't it be something if they agreed to let it be built. Wouldn’t it say something about tolerance, understanding, love, and forgiveness. Wouldn’t it say something about being the bigger person and setting aside your own profound grief so maybe a bridge might be built and such a tragedy might be be avoided in the future. That would give me hope for us humans all over again.

But if those families should decide that the wounds are just too fresh and that for some the insult too great, then I hope those planning to build the Center would change their plans and move the building to what would be considered a more respectable distance. Not because they have to, but because they choose to out of tolerance, understanding, love, and forgiveness. From what I hear, their religion teaches that too.

And that would give me hope for mankind as well.