Today I received an email asking me to sign on to a letter of support to the Muslim community from the Auburn Senior Fellows via Groundswell. You know this kind of thing – sign a letter, sign a petition, send a message to someone in authority about an issue. The letter I got today is a statement that affirms the presence of Muslims in America and condemns the rising tide of anti-Muslim sentiment in America. What I like about the letter is that is does more than condemn the actions of others, affirm a different perspective, and ask others to change. It also asks the signers to promise to take action in support and protection of Muslims. One part of the letter declares:
America is not America without Muslims. As people of faith and moral conscience, we promise to defend our Muslim brothers and sisters from attack, to speak up when they are maligned, and to support them with our voices, our actions, and our bodies.
I like the commitment of this statement. It is easy to add my name to something on line and hope that I am counted. Hope that someone is paying attention to the number of signers. Or tell someone else to change. But this letter asks me to do something in my day to day life beyond just typing my name in a box on a screen.
We are fortunate in St. Petersburg that there is an active Interfaith Association cultivating positive relationships among people of differing faiths. Because of this group and other community initiatives, I know several Muslim people. These are people I can call on the phone or email. People I feel I know well enough to have honest conversations about what is really going on.
Having signed the letter in support of Muslims in America, with the commitment to be personally involved in supporting Muslims, I am planning to ask my Muslim friends directly about how they are being treated day in and day out here in St. Petersburg. I look forward to getting a frank report. Then I will know how I can be helpful right here in our backyard.
This is part of what peace is about. Lofty ideals, yes, but also taking action in our every day lives close to home.
Maybe you can think of a time that you were able to help someone that was being targeted in some way – being bullied, harassed, taken advantage of. What did it feel like to take action on your principles?
Prayer: It’s easy to wish and hope and pray for things. Our faith also compels us to take action. That is harder. It can be inconvenient. It can be risky. We may be afraid of doing the wrong thing and so do nothing. Jesus is a great model for us of someone who lived out his longings each and every day. As we try to follow him, we increase the peace in the world and in ourselves. Amen.