I find myself deeply troubled by the words and acts of hatred currently being expressed and committed against Muslim Americans and Muslims seeking refuge in America simply because they are Muslim. First, I am not a believer in collective guilt. Second, I find myself wondering why Christians weren’t similarly persecuted when the KKK or the Aryan Nation committed acts of terrorism in their God’s name. Third, I think about the disgrace of our internment of Japanese Americans during World War II, as well as the thousands of Jewish refugees that the US turned away out of fear of Nazi spies. And then I wonder if anyone has recognized that ISIS has killed more Muslims than they have people of any other religion.
I can’t help but lament, “Has no learning occurred?” And I try to find the words.
Then I read of correspondence that our founding father and newly sworn President, George Washington, wrote to the Hebrew Congregation of Newport, Rhode Island, in the summer of 1790;
Americans through their republican government gave “to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance.”
It was the statement of a man sufficiently confident in his faith and in his country that neither he nor it saw cause to trespass on the faith of others.
Those are just the right words. They express the respect and high regard our Constitution commands us to hold for the freedom of religion. We all need to aspire to the same confidence in our faith and our country.
It is said that fate is what happens to you, but your destiny is determined by how you choose to respond to what happens to you. An individual’s, a nation’s, single greatest power–the source of all other powers– is our power to choose our response. We need to learn to choose our response based on our values, not on our moods. Individually, and as a nation, we must learn to subordinate our moods to our values.