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Loving Our Muslim Neighbors

Osama Bin Laden said, ?Hostility toward America is a religious duty, and we hope to be

rewarded for it by God? I am confident that Muslims will be able to end the legend of

the so-called superpower that is America? in the Time Magazine issue of January 11, 1999 Vol. 153 NO.1

This sick man?s perspectives that have led to killing of thousands of innocent people are mistakenly being used as perspectives held by all Muslims or anyone from the Middle East region beside Israel. Albeit many of them learned of Osama Bin Laden, his philosophies and atrocities, like all of us, from the media.

As I read and hear how people with Islamic background are being treated in their communities, I can just imagine the fear of the roaming uncertainty in a parent?s mind when he or she sends their son or daughter to school. Because of their physical looks and/or religious clothes, many Islamic people are opting to isolate themselves to save their lives.

But I think this is time for God loving people to be ?walking sermons? as we recall the words attributed to Saint Francis of Assisi when he said, ?Preach the Gospel. Use words if necessary.?

A story is told of how media, businessmen and public leaders in Chicago gathered at a railroad station to meet the 1952 Nobel Peace Prize winner. When the train finally stopped, a tall man stepped out, community leaders approached him and humbly appreciated the honor of having him as their guest as cameras flashed continuously.

This giant of a man returned their appreciation with a ?thank you? but asked to be excused for a few seconds. He maneuvered his way through the crowd until he reached an elderly black woman who was struggling with two huge bags. As if it was his sole duty, he picked the suitcases and asked the woman to follow him to the bus. He loaded the bags and escorted her to a seat. When she was safely seated, he wished her God?s traveling mercies and returned to his hosts and apologized for keeping them waiting.

This act of Dr. Albert Schweitzer, the world famous missionary doctor who spent his life helping the poor in my native continent, Africa, prompted one of the hosts to tell a reporter next to him, ?That?s the first time I ever saw a sermon walking.?

Dr. Schweitzer?s action, way before civil rights marches and counteractions, teaches us we can help carry the ?bags? of those among us who are despised. And while helping carry their ?bags,? we should lead them to comfort.

One lesson we have to learn in order to love those whom we feel justified to hate is that we can be angry about a situation. However, we must never let our anger turn into bitterness. Bitterness leads to blame and reduces chances of logical reasoning. It can also be viewed as a disease that destroys the carrier and may do nothing to the intended target.

It is indeed a difficult time for all of us. Let?s not add more grief to those of us whose only ?crime? is Osama Bin Laden?s claim to be a member of their religion. Or they happen to have originated from the same geographical area where he comes from. In these very difficult times let?s be governed by the words of Seneca that, ?The greatest man is he who chooses right with the most invincible resolution, who resists the sorest temptation from within and without; who bears the heaviest burdens cheerfully; who is calmest in storms, and most fearless under menaces and frowns; whose reliance on truth, on virtue and on God is most unfaltering.?

This is time to never let adversities, by the enemy of God, freedom and human goodness, put us down except ? on our knees.

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