It took me a while to decide if I would blog about this. I live in Houston, TX. In the news recently there has been a lot of discussion (rightfully so) about the shooting committed by Nidal Hasan at Fort Hood in Killeen - which is a few hours drive from here.
13 people died in the shooting. By any account, this is a horrible incident.
The following day, I had a conversation with a man who said, "Well, I guess we should put an end having Moslems in the military." My mouth fell open. For a minute I thought not to respond - not to engage in any way. But then I said, "I'm not prepared to make a blanket statement about all Muslims just because some nut lost it." His follow up comments, which I do not remember verbatim, were something along the lines of - He wasn't just some nut. He was shouting Allah while he was shooting. He was following the Qu'ran. Etc. . . .
Oh my God! I wanted to just start shouting right then but I didn't. I tried to ignore him, but he just kept talking for another five or so minutes.
Perhaps the man did not remember that for about six years on my Spiritual journey, I practiced Islam. Perhaps remembering that wouldn't have made him any difference at all. He felt it. He felt like he was entitled to express it.
Let's suppose for a minute that the gun weilding person had been a black man and instead of shouting Allah, he was shouting - Death to Whitey! Or supposed the gunman had been a gunwoman and she attributed the breakdown to PMS. Would this man then have said that's the end of letting all Black in the military or all women? And haven't we already been down both those roads before?
And since I happen to be both Black and female, would he have felt as comfortable sharing his sentiments with me then, if by chance he didn't feel like he would have found some solidarity in his statement? I wonder.
I wonder if we truly understand the power of our words to affect change - both positively and negatively. I wonder if we honestly consider what we say and its ramifications - not just on our immediate environment, but on the world.
What a sad world we live in. What makes me even more sad is the thought of Muslim (Moslem) soldiers in the US military having to face this kind of ignorance and having to watch their backs - not just in "enemy territory" but in their barracks.
I hate that it is even necessary, in 2009, to have to write such an editorial. In kindergarten I learned a song, "Let There Be Peace on Earth." The lyrics say, "Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me." And so I begin - one peaceful word at a time.
I welcome your feedback.