She's Somebody's Mama
Yesterday, while doing work for the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs, where I am a student assistant, I came across an inspiring blog. Hesham A. Hassaballa is a Pulmonary/Critical Care physician currently practicing in the greater Chicago area and has been a Beliefnet columnist since 2001. He also maintains his own blog.
On the arrest of the six men planning an attack at Fort Dix, Hassaballa wrote:
"'Doesn't the suffering of Muslims around the world also frustrate you?' I may be asked. Indeed it does. But, that frustration I feel does not give me the right to harm an innocent person, no matter who he is, no matter where she is. Not by a long shot. In addition, the pain I feel at the suffering of a fellow Muslim does not mean that I should not care about the suffering of non-Muslims."
"On the contrary, it teaches me to have compassion for all people, Muslim or not. The suffering of a Christian in Detroit should be no less important to me than the suffering of a Muslim in Darfur. I must strive to alleviate the suffering of both. And in no way, shape, or form is attacking Fort Dix a legitimate means to alleviate the suffering of anyone, Muslim or not. It would only create more suffering, and this is against everything for which Islam stands."
I am incapable of debating the "true" teachings of Islam. But I am humbled by the witness of a stranger, a man hundreds of miles from me whom I have never met, whose religious beliefs are different from mine, yet whose writing echoes a conviction I share. I believe that God is not a Democrat, nor a Republican. The death of a child in Indonesia is as sad as the death of a mother in Utah, or a father in Nicaragua, or a daughter on Long Island. Secular dialogue on the value of the human person, despite its limits and deserved criticism, is critical to the movement towards peace.
In my own life, I have found that drawing on my relationships with family and close friends helps me to understand how, as a follower of Jesus, to relate to strangers. A few years ago, my mother was jogging on the treadmill at her gym. Growing overheated, she made the mistake of trying to remove her sweatshirt while still running. And, of course, the inevitable happened: her shirt became stuck with her arms over her head, she lost her balance, and flew off the treadmill into the row of machines behind her. She was injured, and horribly embarrassed. The gym-bos around her all gasped, and several giggled. Few moved to help her. That's no way to treat my mommy.
The Grammy award-winning singer/songwriter India Arie, in her song 'Talk to Her,' suggests that we draw from our own relationships to foster love for the other, whether that person is our order-taker at McDonald's, or a member of our family.
When you talk to her talk to her
Like you want somebody to
Talk to your mama
Don't get smart with her
Have a heart to heart
With her just like you
Would with your daughter
Cause everything you do or say
You got to live with everyday
She's somebody's baby
She's somebody's sister
She's somebody's mama
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