Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Listening to voices of love

I'm not a crowd counter, but I would guess that more than 4000 people gathered near the steps of the Alberta Legislature on Monday night, and thousands more continue to gather in other cities and towns across Canada to stand in solidarity with our grieving Muslim communities. Six of our Muslim brothers in Quebec City, members of our human family -- a computer programmer, a university professor, a pharmacist's aide, a Hallal shop keeper and two newcomers to Canada who were fathers and husbands and brothers and uncles and friends -- died when a university student shot them after their evening prayers on Sunday night.

It's not much of a stretch to link the events in Quebec to the fear and lies being spread by certain politicians in our midst who are focused on closing our borders to immigrants and refugees. It hurts to listen to them create undue fear and insult those who simply want to live in peace and security by insinuating that they are terrorists -- to the point that I'm finding it harder to listen to the news for all the political lies and finger-pointing we have to wade through to get to the real stories of families who are often fleeing terrible situations for a better life with us here. Perhaps you've seen this list from the American Centre for Disease Control already, the point being that terrorism is a poor excuse for closing borders:

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Such stupid excuses to close borders are enough to make anyone lose heart. Thankfully, a friend of mine from work was doing a Toastmasters presentation about Jean Vanier last night and she reminded me why I need to continue to pay attention. We spent some time chatting about how Jean's book, Becoming Human, dragged her from her home in Aleppo, Syria, nine years ago to come to Canada and join L'Arche, a community that helps people with and without disabilities to belong with and to each other. She reminded me of Jean's desire to "build a world where everyone belongs," and in the process, she put the heart back into me. I realized that shutting out the world only allows the wrong rhetoric to gain strength. I need to be aware and to refute it every chance I get. Even with these moodlings.

I'm not sure how we can convince those who are living in fear of immigrants and refugees to believe that everyone belongs -- except to invite them into relationship and to treat them with such tenderness that their fear is banished. It takes time and effort, but most Muslim members of our human family seem to be more than willing to show us the way, laying down their own anger and anxiety to reach out and invite us in to be with them in peace and to pray with them. On my way home from work, I pass a mosque that has thrown up a sign since the shooting inviting passersby to get to know Islam. They are living proof of the words spoken by one Muslim man to our mayor: "We Muslims hear whispers of hate, but we just listen to voices of love."

Every single person on the planet is called to listen to voices of love and to build a world where everyone belongs. So what will you do to help?

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