Invite an Arab to dinner this week. What better time to talk about the Koran and the Muslim religion? Ask what they believe in. Compare your view of God with theirs. See if there is common ground, like God is good; Thou shalt not kill, and Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Be interested, be respectful. They will be too.
Invite an Arab to dinner this week. Listen to music. Exchange recipes. Let your children play together—climbing trees, kicking a soccer ball, playing with dolls. Listen to the children laugh as they make friends. Do the same. Ask what they want for the future of their children. No doubt their words will mirror your thoughts.
Invite an Arab to dinner this week. Ask what they think of America. Listen to the good and to the bad. We have more to learn from the latter. If you like, share with them the foundation that these United States of America were built on:
- The part of the Declaration of Independence (1776) that reads: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness…”
- The Preamble to the Constitution (1787,) which reads: “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
- And maybe repeat the Pledge of Allegiance (1892, revised in 1954,) which those of us of a certain age recited at the beginning of every school day: “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands: one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
Share with your new Arab friends the profound and unbridled idealism we Americans have always prized. And acknowledge that in practice, we’re not perfect.
Invite an Arab to dinner this week. Ask them what they think of the terrorists who attacked our country with commercial bombs full of innocent people. Tell them that before September 11, 2001, the worst terrorist attack on our soil was perpetrated by one of us—Tim McVeigh. Weep together for the human beings gone amok—their thinking tainted as though infected with a computer virus, infinitely replicating their hideously violent thoughts.
Invite an Arab to dinner this week. Weep together for the Arab grandmother aboard the hijacked plane; weep for the mothers and fathers, the firemen and police, the innocent victims of all colors from all around the world. Weep for children who lost parents, for parents who lost children, for husbands and wives who lost spouses, for families all.
Invite an Arab to dinner this week. As our military prepares to defend us and all we hold dear, we civilians have an important job to do: build a bridge out of compassion, respect, and love. Foster understanding. When our differences can’t be reconciled, agree to disagree—peacefully. Only then can we hope to safely rebuild the World Trade Center, on the firm foundation of the ideals that have made America great.
Copyright © Kathleen Jones — September 21, 2001