A decade after 9/11, I vividly remember my numb shock, racing fear and growing rage — how dare they do this to us? — as I ran about trying to register other people’s feelings for The Grand Rapids Press. I didn’t know what to do other than work my tail off and call my daughter at college to tell her I loved her.
Happily, West Michigan soon will have an opportunity to get to know its neighbors of other faiths.
A yearlong initiative for promoting interfaith understanding will be announced Sunday. Key leaders are launching the effort as a positive community response to the 10th anniversary of 9/11. Stay tuned for opportunities to get involved.
It’s my hope this will lead to a long-term change for the better in the way people around here relate to each other — and work together — across faith and cultural lines.
Meanwhile, Jay Munir is working hard to improve relations with Pakistan and promote America’s image worldwide.
He emphasizes the opportunities America has provided Muslims, the help it’s provided to Muslim-majority countries and the lives Americans have sacrificed fighting terrorism.
“We have a lot to be proud of. Our challenge is to be able to communicate that to people in this part of the world.”
Terror is a threat to all
He also wants to communicate to Americans that terrorism threatens us all, including Muslims, and that American Muslims should “speak up loudly and often against terrorism and extremism.” Al-Qaida gunmen killed five of his consulate colleagues in Saudi Arabia, and a Syrian friend of his was killed in this spring’s pro-democracy protests.
His parents are proud of his work despite the risks. His patriotism has been evident since he eagerly studied U.S. history as a boy, Ghazala says: “We obviously worry, but then we know that he was destined for this important work.”
When he left his post in Syria, a friend’s mother told Jay, “I’ve always loved America, but after meeting you, I love it more.”
The world seems darker and more dangerous since 9/11. It’s hard to know what to do with our fears and anxieties. Perhaps just getting to know someone can help ease them — and show our love for America.
Email Charles Honey: firstname.lastname@example.org