Saturday, September 11, 2010

A little bit of peace, respect and togetherness 9 years on from 9/11

 Nine years ago, at around this time, I arrived home from Toddler group with a 2 and a bit year old Anna, switched on the tv to see if anything had happened in the World as was my habit, and shockingly found that in fact something had. Feelings of horror, sympathy for the people who had lost their lives in such terrible circumstances and their families, and fear about what on earth George W Bush was going to do in retaliation.

I phoned Bob at work. He told his colleagues what had happened. His boss gruffly ordered him to get on with his work.  At least he had the decency to acknowledge the scale of the event the next day.

This year's commemoration has been overshadowed by the threat of a small church, ironically called the Dove Outreach Center, where members wander around carrying guns and whose pastor caused international outrage.

It looks, hopefully, as if this won't go ahead.

The whole episode made me want to put a little bit of something a bit more positive out there. In a world of 6 billion unique people, you're going to get 6 billion slightly different views on life, the universe and everything. Most people, of all faiths and none, recognise this and view others' outlook as a chance to listen and learn and live together in mutual respect.

A friend of mine talks about a visit made by her church to a nearby Mosque:
We were generously given a copy of the Koran when a group from our church was warmly welcomed to prayers and a meal at the mosque. Our Koran will always be treated with respect, and I look forward to having time to read it (it is in both English and Arabic.
A group from the mosque had come to our church first, for a discussion evening, and after that we were invited to their shiny new mosque (built entirely from donations). We were warmly welcomed, and shown all over the place, rituals were explained and we were invited to be at the back during prayers (including the women among us). We were introduced to the basics of Islam, including the references to Christ in the Koran, visited an exhibition (much like the ones we find sometimes in our churches), and then shared a fabulous meal with our hosts. The whole visit was characterised by warmth and friendliness, and efforts to explain and understand each another's beliefs, but with no efforts by either side at conversion. When we left we were each offered a beautiful leather-bound copy of the Koran in Arabic with English translation and commentaries. It was a great day. 
Another friend pointed me in the direction of this group on Facebook, commenting that::

If everyone in the group reads the Sacred Texts of their own Faiths and looks up the passages about pursuing Peace, this would be a very powerful and prayerful experience. Sacred Texts of all Faiths should be honoured not burned. Peace, Shalom, Salaam to Everyone!

Other groups have suggested that they will replace every Qur'an burned with two - these have been people of all Faiths, the first initiatives from Christian groups.
I think this issue has touched the hearts of many people all over the world.
Feel free to add your own observations in the comments.

1 comment:

Keith Legg said...

I can remember it quite clearly. I was working at the FSA in London at the time, in an office literally across the road from the Canary Wharf tower. The first we knew was a report on the BBC website, then the Internet crashed and we had to rely on updates from a contact at Morgan Stanley who was in touch with their New York office. What struck me afterwards was that nobody working in the City at that time was untouched - everybody knew somebody who had been affected (the sister of a colleague was killed.)


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