Sunday, August 15, 2010

Thoughts on the Ground Zero Mosque

I rarely get my thoughts wound up over political issues. I've noticed that most issues are either a flash lightening, hitting hard and fast but then gone, or they linger on and on like a bad smell in an old house. I generally stay away to maintain focus on what is mine to do and the impact I have on those directly around me. But like most Americans, I can't simply look away and allow the affects of 9-11 to tumble off my back.

In recent weeks there has been a large debate going on about the building of a mosque near Ground Zero. I have read that the likes of Newt Gingrich say that such a thing would be like hanging Nazi symbols at concentration camps. I'm not sure that comparison is apt. Islam is a faith, a religion, and while yes it collides with political ideology, one quick google search will tell you the Nazis were not a particularly religious organization. And in matters of war, the Nazis certianly did not behave as terrorist cells do today.

I have to wonder how many people who oppose the mosque personally know anyone who practices the Muslim faith. Through my travels, I have been fortunate enought to be of acquaintance of several, and getting to know at least one, a middle-aged woman. And because sometimes I'm a little too precotious for me own good, I had to ask about her thoughts on 9-11 and how Muslims are perceived in America today. Her response was surprisingly innocent: she said she just didn't understand how the actions of a very fanatical very few Muslims could create so much dissent among Americans; when at the same time there are also a very fanatical very few fanatical group of Christians commit crimes of domestic terror, not to mention war on an international scale. She went on to tell me that the basics of Islam are not so different than the basics of Christianity: be a good person. Love your neighbor. Don't lie, don't cheat, don't steal, and don't kill. And as with any religion, there are fanatics who twist the religious texts to say what they want it to say.

After talking with her I began to feel that the building of a Mosque at Ground Zero would be a message of peace, a gesture that prejudice against those of a different religion is dying, not running rampant like weeds in an unkempt garden. It seems that allowing the Mosque would serve to help Americans get over their fear of Muslims in general, where the fear is based on the actions of the fanatical few and not the every day, hard working, family raising, tax paying Muslim.

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