9-11: Tragedy / Grief / Suffering/ Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf

It's 9-11 and there's lots to be said, I know.  The death toll of the attacks was 2,996, including the 19 hijackers.  It was terrible, and I can't comprehend the sorrow and pain felt by Americans there, who had loved one's there, or who lived and worked nearby.

But in April, 2009 the Associated Press reported casualties of 110,600 Iraqis, due to the Iraq War.

In Darfur, there are various estimates on the number of human casualties, ranging from under twenty thousand to several hundred thousand dead, from either direct combat or starvation and disease engendered by the conflict.

Haitian President Rene Preval reported in January, 2010 that nearly 170,000 bodies had been counted after the Haitian earthquake. In February, 2010 Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive estimated that 300,000 had been injured.

Mark R. Elsis of Lovearth.net writes: 
On Tuesday September 11, 2001, at least 35,615 of our brother and sisters died from the worst possible death, starvation. Somewhere around 85% of these starvation deaths occur in children 5 years of age or younger. Why are we letting at least 30,273 of the most beautiful children die the worst possible death everyday? Every 2.43 seconds another one of our fellow brothers and sisters dies of starvation. 

The world is filled with death and pain and suffering - so much that we tend to lose track of whatever is "out there" because it's too overwhelming.  We fixate on what's "right here" (and even then, that's not entirely true because we're "so done" with post-Katrina aid).  

I grieve for the 2,996 lives lost in the September 11 Terrorist Attacks in New York (I use the number including the 19 hijackers, because Jesus actually called us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us) but I also grieve for the thousands who die each day, the millions who are starving, sick, raped, tortured, enslaved, abused and murdered all over the world.  Here in the United States and elsewhere.  Christian, Muslim and atheist victims.  

The world needs peace, not war rhetoric from Sarah Palin, Newt Gingrich, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and the fool in Florida.  Religious folks have to do better.  We can do better.  We can be better.  WE CAN LOVE BETTER.  

After his CNN interview on Wednesday, I think I'm a real fan of Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf. I know it's hard to judge based on a quick television interview, but I kept thinking: "What a lovely human being."  The man speaks a language of peace.  We can meet that language in-kind and still grieve for the Americans who lost their lives in the World Trade Center.  It doesn't have to be either-or.  Revenge and outrage don't honor those lost.

Great quotation from Rauf: "If you politicize a religion, it is dangerous!" 

And he said he wanted to "establish a center that would be the space for a vision that I've had for over a decade... which is to establish a space which embodies the fundamental beliefs we have as Jews, Christians and Muslims, which is to love our God and to love our neighbor.  To build a space where we have a culture of worship.  And at the same time, to get to know each other.  And to forge personal bonds.  'Cause that's how our society, how a community is built.  And how we can create something that will snowball, to push back against the radical discourse that has just hijacked the discourse in our country and in much of our world."

Friends, we really can get past the divisive discourse that demonizes anyone who doesn't share our worldview; who doesn't speak our language; who doesn't share our skin tone or carry a familiar surname.  We don't have to forget the past.  But the past does not dictate the future.  We can do better.

Peace be upon you.


Existential Punk said...

What a beautiful post, Peter!i so like this Imam Rauf a lot! Talk about someone wanting to work and build ecumenism. Thanks for sharing this vital post. i wish more evangelicals could see the good in this man and his mission rather than fear and mistrust!

Lutestring said...

Oh my goodness, that was so powerful (the Imam's interview). What a gentle, non-combative spirit he has.

"You cannot heal a trauma by running away from it." Well said.

Peter J Walker said...

He really seems like a lovely human being. And the sad thing is how surprised I was. Maybe not "surprised," but relieved that he wasn't the caricature fundamentalists make of Muslims. Which, of COURSE he wouldn't be. No more than your average Evangelical pastor is the dude in Florida, or Jerry Falwell. I find there are still assumptions in me that I want to move beyond.

I don't want to be guilty of "tokenism," but I honestly wish I had Muslim friends. I'd like to have real people to ask questions of. It's too easy to make assumptions when we don't know the people we talk about or watch on the evening news.

Adele and Lute, thanks for your comments.

Lutestring said...

I think it's really hard when you don't know many of the people groups you desire to know more of, to *not* be patronizing at first when your stereotypes start breaking down. As long as one is humble and keeps growing/being corrected - then I think you're fine. It's embarrassing to keep finding these things, but they're more of a fault caused by lack of positive reinforcement, a negativity. They're not actively chosen bigotry.

Thanks again for sharing this, and I will be praying for God to work a mighty, healing work in this mosque, for I believe with the imam that that is what must come to be.

rainlillie said...

Excellent post and thanks for sharing the interview.

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