Hope

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Hope

Written: 09/10/2010

On A Day We Remember The Fallen, Let Us Spread a Message of Hope
 
9/11/01 was one of the greatest tragedies in world history and certainly the most tragic day for America in my lifetime.  As we all remember, on that fateful Tuesday morning, terrorists flew airplanes into World Trade Center 1 and 2, The Pentagon and would have attacked another destination had it not been for the brave passengers of United 93.
 
I was student teaching at Norristown Area High School that day.  In fact, my first lesson I ever taught was at 8 AM on 9/11/01. I’ll never forget during second period when the hall monitor came in the room and said “Mike [Santangelo, my cooperating teacher] you might want to turn the TV on.” We saw both of the Twin Towers ablaze.  By next period, they both fell; the Pentagon was hit and a plane crashed in Pennsylvania.  We had a meeting after school that day and I remember how empty I-476 was on the way home:  Philadelphia had evacuated.
 
I worked two summers at an overnight camp and had friends in New York City --- they all survived.
 
It was a dark and frightening time in our country’s history.  But we rallied together as a people.  Now more than ever it seems, we should focus on a collective vision of hope for all people in this country.
 
Flash forward to present day.  I am writing this blog the day before the ninth anniversary of the attacks.  And if you have been following the news you know there have been two highly publicized and controversial stories:  The building of the “Ground Zero Mosque” and the planned burning of Qurans by Rev. Terry Jones.
 
One of the founding principles of this country --- one thing that many of our country’s first immigrants were not able to do in Europe --- was to practice the religion of their choice freely.  Perhaps many of us take for granted this freedom and don’t realize the strife Americans don’t face because they can choose the faith they believe in, attend services, have meetings publicly to discuss their religion and so forth.
 
What many of us also forget is that these freedoms are for all of us, and even if we do not agree we must respect other’s beliefs.
 
You can read a great deal about the “Ground Zero Mosque”.  Below is a link to an article by Feisal Abdul Rauf ---the chairman of The Cordoba Institute---about the community center and what its purpose is:
 
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/08/opinion/08mosque.html?_r=1
 
In brief, I support the construction of the “Ground Zero Mosque” because it is the legal right of the Islamic community to practice their faith in New York City or any city. There has been a great deal of backlash and ill will surrounding the mosque’s construction.  Let me be clear that people’s opinions are valid and should be discussed.  But I feel like outrage is not the way to do it.  I feel like we are missing out on a great opportunity to have meaningful dialogue about faith in 21st century in America. I know that religion is “not something we talk about.”  Maybe we should.
 
Rev. Terry Jones is the pastor of The Dove World Outreach Center in Florida and has been making headlines because he has scheduled a Quran Burning on 9/11/10.
 
To burn the holy book of a religion --- the ultimate act of desecration, hate, intolerance and anger is truly and utterly disgraceful and shameful.  How would Rev. Jones feel if a group got together and burned Bibles?  A multitude of individuals have come out against the planned burning:  some of Jones’ own congregation, President Obama, The Vatican and more.
 
If Rev. Jones or anyone else wants to preach the Word, argue against Islam or any other religion based on facts and open-mindedness --- that’s fine.  But he is doing a disservice to himself and his community for planning to do this ---- the government has said the burning could put American lives at risk and Jones says they have received death threats.
 
It was announced yesterday that Rev. Jones has cancelled the planning burning although now it seems it might still happen.
 
9/11/01 was a tragedy. My hope for this country and its communities is that we truly come together as one nation and respect and celebrate our differences.

-John