Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Remembering 9/11 and Growing Past It

Remembering 9/11 and Growing Past It

9/11/2001 was a day that nobody will forget. I bet you can remember what you were doing that day. I know I do. I’ll not rewrite what I’ve shared before about where I was and what I was doing on 9/11. (I will put the links to those articles at the end of this one) What I want to share is what I’ve done and learned since then.

First off I’ve always been a chatter box. When standing in a line at the market, bank or for a ride at a Disney Park I always say hi to the people around me and strike up conversations. Since 9/11 I am even more apt to do so. Now I have an added thing I try to do and an additional group I try to reach. Let me share an exchange I had with my “target group”.

I was at Disneyland in a shop making a purchase. Standing in line behind me was a lady with beautiful eyes. She was wearing a burka and looked a little nervous. I smiled and said, “Hi! Are you having a good day here at Disneyland? Are you enjoying yourself?” Her eyes got huge and she looked around. Haltingly she replied, “I’m Muslim.” I smiled even more, “So, I’m Christian and I’m enjoying myself here at the park, are you?” She looked startled, “I’m not from here I’m from the Middle East.” I looked her squarely in the eyes, “Well, I’m American. I sure hope you are having a wonderful visit to America! Are you enjoying Disneyland?” Again she look surprised that I would want to continue to talk to her, “I’m Muslim.” She mumbled. With a huge smile I once again said, “Well I’m Christian. It does not matter if you are Muslim or Christian, visiting from the Middle East or were born in America we can both enjoy Disneyland! I sure hope you are enjoying yourself!” With that she finally relaxed and a smile reached her eyes. Her shoulders dropped from the tense posture she had held. “Yes! I am enjoying myself here. Thank you!” With that I told her I was happy she was enjoying herself, stepped up to make my purchase and waved goodbye as I left as she stepped up to make her purchase.

As a Christian I can and do disagree with the Muslim faith. BUT! I do not condone or agree with anyone that says ALL Muslims are evil crazed killers. There are Christians that go too far in trying to push their faith on others just as there are Muslims that go too far believing that they must judge all that do not follow their beliefs. We can agree to disagree and have civil discussions with those interested in learning our beliefs without forcing our beliefs on those that have no interest.

Walt Disney said, “Once a man has tasted freedom he will never be content to be a slave. That is why I believe that this frightfulness we see everywhere today is only temporary. Tomorrow will be better for as long as America keeps alive her ideals of freedom and a better life. All men will want to be free and share our way of life. There must be so much that I should have said, but haven’t. What I will say now is just what most of us are probably thinking every day. I thank God and America for the right to live and raise my family under the flag of tolerance, democracy, and freedom.” (I believe this quote was from the 1940’s and he was speaking of WWII. But, it is just as true today as it was then.)

I could not agree more! I love the fact that in America you have the right to believe or not believe as you wish. I enjoy the fact that I can be at the market, bank, a restaurant or a Disney Park and the person next to me might be of a different faith and we can, without fear of reprisal from our government discuss or not the uniqueness of our faith. (As long as we are not forcing our beliefs on someone else.) We have the freedom to worship, or not as we choose.

We need to be civil to each other and share our way of life. Just because someone has a different faith, skin color, has disabilities or lives a lifestyle our faith and beliefs disagree with it does not mean we should shun them or separate ourselves from them. Just because they are not “like us” it does not mean we should not ask if they are enjoying themselves at Disneyland or anywhere else that is pleasurable. Just because they are not from America but are just visiting or have moved to our great land from somewhere else does not mean we look at them with instant distrust. Let their actions be what we judge them on not appearances!

Speaking to the Muslim woman at Disneyland showed me something. She was scared! She did not have to be. No one was attacking her at that moment but she was afraid. She was afraid of being judged for the actions of the aggressive ones of her faith. She herself was not being aggressive so she did not deserve that distrust. This was tainting her enjoyment of the Happiest Place on Earth! She needed someone to show her that we Americans stand for tolerance and freedom of religion no matter if we disagree with the beliefs personally. Maybe she saw a different side of America that day. Maybe she learned she did not have to fear so much.

Maybe if we reached out to those that differ from us perhaps we will have more friends and fewer enemies that truly know nothing about us. How will you reach out and be a Good Will Ambassador for America today? I know I’m going to try to find someone to say hi too that is different from me. I’m going to continue to try to grow past the fear and distrust that the acts of a few crazy people caused on 9/11. Will you join me?

Links to my past posts on 9/11:

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