A Mosque at (not) Ground Zero... A Test?
60 Minutes just did a story tonight on the guys behind this Islamic community center near ground zero. They talked to the main two guys doing it, the builder and the spiritual leader, as well as one of the "key figures" resisting it.
The builder is a muslim, born in Brooklyn, to a Polish Catholic mother and a Greek father. You can hear the New York accent, the "american", in his voice. The opposition leader they spoke to is a right-wing, former media executive (they didn't explain the "former", but it makes me wonder a bit). She said don't call it "community building", "don't spit in my face and tell me it's raining". They asked her why she "moved the mosque to ground zero", since it's not really at ground zero; there wasn't much of an answer from her, but I thought it was an interesting question.
Then they spent some time with the "Imam" (is that right?), and that was very interesting. They showed some footage of his service at a point where he was addressing the extremists of their faith, the suicide bombers. "That is not who we are", he said to them. He told the interviewer that he wants the mosque there toprevent another 9-11. And so that, if there is another 9-11, he will be the first one to die. They talked a bit more, and he explained that the onus is on moderate muslims to stand between the terrorists and the non-muslim american. Nice.
They also showed us the daily muslim prayer in the chapel that is now at the spot hit my the plane at the Pentagon. The chaplain/pastor there welcomes it.
As I watched these people, they seemed gentle and peaceful. It occurred to me: I don't knowany muslims. We were friends with a muslim family in Mass, and they were wonderful people. What it must be like to be of a faith that has been so bastardized by so many. How would I feel if so many had died in the name of my God?
How easy it is for the part of me still grieving over 9-11 to be influenced by rhetoric, when there's nothing real to counteract it. How easy it is to be conquered by my emotional side, when my rational side has so little ammunition. How good it feels to have some sort of outlet, or target, for my feelings about that day, and for the frustration over Bin Laden still being out there, instead of just watching 2 wars from a great distance.
I really feel that this is a test, for all of us.
Will we allow ourselves to be controlled by our emotions? Will we make snap judgments from a distance, through the fog of intense emotion that's further intensified by poignant, professionally-crafted rhetoric? Or will we get a grip on ourselves, come back down to earth, and look at reality, at the real people?
Will we succumb to the temptation to indulge our emotional impulses, or will we do what we know in our hearts is right?
Will we go with the Devil,
or will we go with God?