Archive for August, 2010

On the summer of 2010

August 29, 2010

This morning, I scanned my page on a networking site and noticed a friend had posted Dr. Martin Luther King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech via YouTube.  The comments had to be disabled because of the hate comments, the arguments, and the debate between people.  Many, if not most of us, know the closing ideas “Let freedom ring. . . “I read the entire text.  Shocking ideology: equality. Shocking idea: not painting the idea of “all” when speaking about a group of people.

A section of Dr. King’s speech leaped out at me:

“But there is something that I must say to my people, who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice: In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.”

Let us not drink from the cup of bitterness and hatred. If, as a nation, we needed that message it is now.  We are standing in a summer of 1968: embroiled in an unpopular war, hate rhetoric screaming from both sides. Pastor Terry Jones is holding an “International Burn a Koran Day” on September 11 at his church the Dove World Outreach in Gainesville, Florida. In an interview with Chris Matthews, Jones cited Islamic codes anti-gay, anti-feminist stance.  Jones, it should be noted, protested the inauguration of Gainesville’s new openly gay mayor with the no “homo” mayor protest.  In the blog announcing it, he cites the same issues in Leviticus that he finds offensive in the Koran (and is using as justification for the burning of the Koran)!

We live in a nation that among its principles is the right to religious freedom: or freedom from religion. For me, there is no mistaking the Islamaphoia: it is hatred and fear of the unknown. Any religious text, any, can be used to justify almost anything. Religious text, by nature, set out codes.  To those who say “The Koran says to kill if x action is taken”, my response is simple: read Leviticus if you claim to be Jewish or Christian.  The Koran provides a passage of tolerance of the other Abrahamic faiths: The Qur’an says, “Those who believe (in the Qur’an), and those who follow the Jewish (scriptures), and the Christians and the Sabians, – any who believe in Allah (God) and the Last Day, and work righteousness, shall have their reward with their Lord; on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve.” (Qur’an, 2:62) (Parenthesis in quotes mine). 

Our summer of 2010 shall be remembered as the hatred and the exclusion of the other. Granting gay individuals the right to marry, developing an immigration path for children who are now adults and where brought here illegally, demonstrating, that we the people understand that the actions of a few to not represent the beliefs of many.  Heeding the words of Dr. King, cautioning against drinking from the cup of bitterness, it is time this summer ends. In 1969, we, as a nation put two men on the moon. It is time we strive for that: for something that is positive, something that can move us as a nation forward.  We cannot ask our government to do it: as individuals it is up to us to stand up and say no to those around us who spread hate, no to our leaders who by inaction continue to promote it and no to corporations who through donations and policies continue to allow actions to continue.

The time for intolerance is over. It is not a founding principle this country. It is not a tenet of any religion: please do not confuse a person or group of people with an entire faith tradition.  There is something we can do every day by choice, to build a bridge.

There would be no better way to honor those who died on 9/11, than to demonstrate that as a nation, we embrace an Islamic Cultural Center several blocks from ground zero. We would show that we are a shining light. A nation working embracing diversity; and a people who realize that in the other, we find and better the self.

Until then, we continue to drink from the cup of bitterness and hate. And that is not a founding principle of my nation.