Inching closer to the American Dream
This column is to be published in the UUFHC newsletter in September.
We have an opportunity, we citizens of the United States, an opportunity that we passed up nine years ago. We can inch a little closer to the American dream of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for all. We can expand our collective consciousness beyond fear and self absorption into self claiming and love of other.
We can encourage the building of “Park 51”, the planned community center and mosque to be located blocks from ground zero of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Towers.
We can do this. We can break out of the cocoon of victimhood and honor life with brave and transcendent choices. We can honor those who have died by choosing to thrive without hate and irrational condemnation. We can stop demonizing, polarizing and aggrandizing. We can learn that the terrorists were no more representative of Islam than David Koresh was of Christianity. We can say to the world, having lost our first chance after 9/11 through pre-emptive war, that we choose ways of peace and understanding.
The Anti-Defamation League does the surviving loved ones of those killed on 9/11 no service by identifying them as unable to recover from the tragedy. The disappointing opposition of the Anti-Defamation League encourages feud mentality, fixation on terrorism, and victimology. If we block our freedom to move on, we live the terrorists’ lives, not our own.
Mayor Bloomberg of New York City spoke eloquently in favor of the mosque:
"We may not always agree with every one of our neighbors. That’s life and it’s part of living in such a diverse and dense city. But we also recognize that part of being a New Yorker is living with your neighbors in mutual respect and tolerance. It was exactly that spirit of openness and acceptance that was attacked on 9/11," he said. "Let us not forget that Muslims were among those murdered on 9/11 and that our Muslim neighbors grieved with us as New Yorkers and as Americans. We would betray our values – and play into our enemies’ hands – if we were to treat Muslims differently than anyone else. In fact, to cave to popular sentiment would be to hand a victory to the terrorists – and we should not stand for that." (Huffington Post, 8/3/10)
We can be vigilant and innovative. We can counter hate with community. Yes, the mixing of religious culture and the letting go of terror is painful. The pain signals the depth of love and longing for a good life. If we want to mature into world community, we must dare to soften our hardened hearts and have the courage to claim our ideal of freedom and justice for all.
So may it be. Amen.
Rev. Lisa Ward