A couple of months ago I received the following email, which set off OMG-You-Must-Be-Kidding-Me bells in my head. Rather than dash back a pissed-off reply (shooting the messenger rarely helps anyone, plus, I'm attempting to respond to life instead of react) I sat with it, and decided to post this instead.
Here was the original email, typos included:
> >> Jiggs McDonald, NHL Hall of Fame broad caster speaking in Orillia , Ontario , says, "I am truly perplexed that so many of my friends are against another mosque being built in Toronto . I think it should be the goal of every Canadian to be tolerant regardless of their religious beliefs. Thus the mosque should be allowed, in an effort to promote tolerance.
> >> That is why I also propose that two nightclubs be opened next door to the mosque, thereby promoting tolerance from within the mosque. We could call one of the clubs, which would be gay, "The Turban Cowboy ", and the other a topless bar called "You Mecca Me Hot." Next door should be a butcher shop that specializes in pork, and adjacent to that an open-pit barbecue pork restaurant, called " Iraq o' Ribs." Across the street there could be a lingerie store called "Victoria Keeps Nothing Secret ", with sexy mannequins in the window modeling the goods. Next door to the lingerie shop there would be room for an adult sex toy shop, "Koranal Knowledge ", its name in flashing neon lights, and on the other side a liquor store called "Morehammered."
> >> All of this would encourage Muslims to demonstrate the tolerance they demand of us, so their mosque issue would not be a problem for others. "Yes we should promote tolerance, and you can do your part by passing this on.
My first reaction to this email (when I receive any “pass it on” message, to be honest) is to Trash it. Just hit the Delete button. Upon receiving this one though, I wondered whether the person who sent it believed these were good ideas, thought the word-play was funny, or perhaps hated or was afraid of Muslims as a group, thus forwarded it on without really thinking about its contents.
So... rather than toss it out, I re-read it. And I thought a lot about what it said. (Yes, I have been accused, more than once, of thinking too much.) Then I sat down to write.
This is what I want to say to the author of that email, whether or not it was Jiggs McDonald, NHL Hall of Fame broadcaster, (his daughter Susan de Simone states that it was not) and to all of the people who have since passed it along....
Dear Fellow Humans,
Has anyone ever seen Islamic people opening disrespectfully-named businesses that spit in the face of Christian values next door to a church? I've never seen that. Never. (Ok... I know it was "a joke," but at whose expense?)
Do Muslims have a problem with Christian churches being built in their neighbourhoods? I've never heard of that. Not once. (And if they did, would it behoove us to stoop to that level?)
More and more people are converting to Muslim, and many Muslim immigrants are moving to Canada and the U.S. every day. We are going to have to accept that. First, because we cannot stop it, and much more importantly, because it is the loving, mature, "Christian" thing to do. The Bible says “Love your neighbour” not "Love your Christian neighbour."
Yes, there are Arabic people – radical, small-minded people – who hate North American values and hate freedom. But have you listened to the hateful, small-minded people at the Westboro Baptist Church? Islamic radical groups do not corner that ugly market.
The Muslims I have met have all been just PEOPLE.... People who love and follow their God. A God who teaches love and harmony. Check the Quran. So many of the writings from their book teach exactly the same messages that are in the Bible.
It's amazing to me how many Christians believe that it's more than ok to come to a new land and subvert the natives, giving them crappy little reserves to live on, all in the name of finding a home where they can have Religious Freedom. But then when immigrants come to that land with different religions, the descendants of those original Christians treat the new immigrants with prejudice and suspicion, and attempt to thwart their building places to gather and worship.
Alternatively, they preach “tolerance” which is a far cry from kind, respectful acceptance. After all, when we tolerate something, we put up with it. Have you ever had anyone tolerate your presence? Not much of an embrace there, right? Somehow, I don’t think Christ meant “tolerate your neighbour” when he was speaking of love.
I understand that it's human nature to be afraid of the things we don't understand. But the question is: do we remain as children, stuck in that fear, or do we stretch beyond our fears, practice the Golden Rule, and welcome our new neighbours? When we get to know them, we will realize that, in fact, they are just like us: creative, afraid, confused, curious, loving human beings, looking for joy and safety, and always doing their best to find fulfillment.
Your hatred / fear gives birth to a disrespect that is poisonous to you and to the world. I pray you will find a way to leave it behind so that we can all know the loving being that, underneath it, you truly are.