Thursday, August 19, 2010

It's Only One Mosque

I don't like being in the middle of conflict. So, it is with great trepidation that I step into this "ground zero mosque" fray, but I'm too irked now to keep my mouth shut about it. Irked by those on BOTH sides (as usual).

Here's the deal. It sounds to me like, from the very beginning, much ado has been made about little. Legally, there is nothing to prevent a mosque/Islamic center being built on this location, as everybody seems to acknowledge. The description of it being "at Ground Zero" sounds like an exaggeration. It's close to Ground Zero, but not close enough that it can't be avoided by visitors and mourners. Yes, America is all about religious freedom. Yes, perhaps the victim's families over-reacted to the idea. Maybe they shouldn't find this so offensive or hurtful.

But the fact is, they DO find it offensive and hurtful. Most Americans do -- 61% I am seeing on TV as I type. Sometimes pain is oblivious to the arguments of reason. Telling someone that their hurting is unjustified, or that they themselves are to blame for the hurting ("Intolerant politicizing bigots!"), doesn't stop the pain -- in fact, it only exacerbates it. And it shows a lack of compassion for the hurting one and a marked apathy about the relationship with the hurting one.

And THAT is why I'm mad about this mosque.

We are continually being told that the vast majority of American Muslims are reasonable and moderate and peace-loving . . . and I believe that. But reasonable, moderate, peace-loving Muslims would not continue to push for an unnecessary thing that is so dramatically damaging their relationship with their fellow Americans of other faiths. If these people are truly interested in building inter-faith relations, their response at the beginning of this uproar should have been:

"Our intentions are innocent; we had nothing to do with the 9-11 attack; we believe there is nothing wrong with what we're trying to do here. However, we have no desire to hurt our brothers and sisters who are still grieving, and we know that positive, trusting relationships with our fellow Americans are more important than our legal right to build an Islamic center on this particular spot. We will build elsewhere. I mean, it's only one mosque."

Had the Muslim higher-ups said something like this months ago, they would have earned tremendous respect from the American public. It would have been a tangible sign of the benevolence in their hearts. It would have promoted healing, where they are now promoting distrust and rancor. They would still have their Islamic center, and they would also have the support and affection of the very people fighting them now. If only they had been willing to turn the other cheek -- to be their weaker brother's keeper -- this could have been not just a non-issue, but a step forward.

Unfortunately, there's now no forward motion to be had. It's gone too far; somebody is going to come up the loser. And that makes me mad. It didn't have to be this way!! It's a bloody shame. When will we all learn that it is often more important to be kind than it is to be right.

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