12 September 2010


On the morning of September 11th, 2001, I was volunteering at the Salvation Army in Findlay, Ohio, a full-time missionary for the LDS church. We heard reports that something was happening over the radio and someone plugged in a t.v. My companion and I held each other tight and with tears running down our faces, we watched the second tower fall. I remember the horror, fear and speculation that we shared with everyone around us. There were reports that there was a plane headed for Cleveland and we were all very worried, even though we were two hours away from there. We were advised to stay away from government buildings and to stay home and wait for news. In the days that followed, the world grieved with us and so very many people came together. There seemed to be something in the air that encouraged people to be more courteous, more patient, and more understanding. 

Then came the anger. 

Anger is a natural part of grief. While I support the need to get answers and seek justice, I have never been okay with the vilification of Islam. I grew up with many Muslims and my experience with Islam has always been positive. The first time I heard Toby Keith sing about lighting up the sky and putting his boot in someones ass, I was HORRIFIED. I will not listed to his music even now because of it. I could not support something called Shock and Awe - the ones who truly suffered had NOTHING to do with our tragedy. I think about the terror of children woken from their sleep to the sound of bombs. Thousands of innocent Iraqi people are dead. I believe wholeheartedly in accountability and consequences, but not revenge. It bothers me that some waive the American flag while spewing anger and hate and intolerance. This quote by Barbara Kingsolver is one of my favorites:

"But our flag is not just the logo for wars; it is the flag of American pacifists too. It's the flag of all of us who love our country enough to do the hard work of living up to its highest ideals." 
-Barbara Kingsolver, Small Wonder 

About a year after the attacks, I was in a new area in Ohio knocking on doors on a beautiful summer night and met the most wonderful Muslim family. They invited us to sit on the porch with them and enjoy the night air. We spent the time talking about all of the things our religions have in common and our hopes for the world. I learned much more about Islam and I left that porch with an even deeper understanding and respect for it. 

My heart goes out to all who have lost loved ones in this conflict - all over the world. I hope that we can all be cautious and careful about the way our actions may affect others. 

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