Sunday, December 30, 2007

Christmas at Ground Zero: Six Years Later

World Trade Center Memorials
Serving the Heroes of 9/11

I was busy doing a little cleaning and organizing when I came across a piece of paper. I opened it up and it was a photocopy of my security clearance tag for responding to the Sept. 11th attack on the WTC. That was back in December, 2001. Now I don’t want to sound important, I was not. I was just one of thousands of disaster mental health volunteers. The clearance simply identified where I was allowed to go. We were not allowed to keep the tags so we all made copies on our last day in New York. So, in the middle of cleaning the memories came flooding back.

Like most Americans, after the attacks I wanted to do something, make a contribution, be helpful. I took a bunch of courses. I went to Detroit and took a Critical Incident Stress Management course through the Civil Air Patrol. I took a course in disaster mental health in Indy and another course on Biological Weapons in Evansville. Still, I wanted to DO something.

I talked it over with my family and we all decided together I would go to New York over Christmas break. This was the first time Cathi and I had not been together for Christmas since 1973. Still, Cathi and the girls felt sending me was their contribution to the nation. So off I went to New York City.

As I write this it is the Feast Day of the Holy Family. During the homily our priest pointed out that while we are to honor the Holy Family this is really a day to honor the entire Christian Family. When I think of going to New York six years ago I know I was honored to have my family. I was very aware that while I was not with them I never felt closer to them.

As I flew over Manhattan to the airport I saw the tug boats going from lower Manhattan to Staten Island. I did not know at that time that all of the debris from Ground Zero was being hauled to Fresh Kill, a park preserve. The entire setting was a gigantic crime scene. Because it was toxic workers walked around in HazMat suits. Because it was a crime scene there were soldiers on site. Because birds tried to take material away rocket flares were routinely set off. The site was so large it could be seen from the International Space Station. I just looked down and saw boats.

I checked in at headquarters, under the Brooklyn Bridge. I was briefed and then sent with my fellow workers by cab to our hotel in upper Manhattan. It was nighttime and when we drove past Ground Zero all of the construction lights were on. Work at the site was continuous. The lights set off a gigantic blue glowing ball around the site. It looked like a bad sci-fi film set.

Our hotel was two blocks from Central Park. At the end of our block was the Russian Tea Room and Carnegie Hall. Times Square was in walking distance.

We were all given different assignments. One worked at Pier 94. This is where folks who had evidence of DNA brought it to the site to have a death confirmed. If that occurred they received an urn with from soil from Ground Zero. The place was huge and had clergy from every conceivable faith. They also had a memorial wall made by volunteers from the Oklahoma City Bombing.

Another peer worked at the Big White Tent at Ground Zero. This was an enormous tent and respite center for the Firefighters and construction workers who wee doing the difficult work of body and body part recovery. My friend worked the night shift. We were told that when we arrived the fires at Ground Zero were officially declared “put out”. However, that was not true, they burned all night and the smell was horrible.

I worked at Service Center One. This was six blocks from Ground Zero. When I arrived my ears and throat were hurting. I was told that was expected, it was from Ground Zero. Luckily it only lasted a day.

Our job was to support the workers who processed the financial needs of clients. The clients were workers, students, residents of the area who lost everything because of the attacks. Their needs were great and their requests were often modest.

We had a small white tent across the street from our center. This was a waiting room. It was December and cold. We had a heater in the tent and coffee but it felt like the 1930s. This was New York and we always had translators to help us. There were at least three different Chinese languages spoken, numerous Slavic languages, Italian, Russian, Spanish, Arabic, Hindi, Pashto. I don’t know what we would have done without our translators.

The area was fascinating. To the south was Ground Zero and Battery Park. Next to us was Tribeca and to the immediate north was China Town. A block away was Nino’s. This was a free restaurant for volunteers served by volunteers. People from all over American came here. The firefighters sat by themselves. The police, Salivation Army, Red Cross, guards and construction workers mingled. The entire place was covered by hand made cards from children from all over the world.

I went to Nino’s for lunch on Christmas Eve. A lady at the door handed me a small gift wrapped box. I said I could not accept it. I was told it was not for me. They recognized that everyone there left family behind. It was pearl earrings for Cathi. They were honoring the folks that made it possible for us to be there. I was deeply touched.

It was difficult work. The stories we were told were graphic and stuck with you. We often needed time alone to recover between clients. Two stories that were vivid without being explicit stick out for me. One was of a college girl calling her mother to assure her she was OK. Her mom turned on the television, saw the towers fall and the phone went dead. It was an entire day before the mother found out her daughter was alive. This student reminded me of so many of my own students.

The other story was an old man who was crying, telling me of the horrible, slow death he imagined his friend experienced. One of the folks waiting in the tent was an engineer who overheard us. He walked up to us and explained to the older man that because of the physics involved his friend death was instantaneous. Three months after the day and this old man found some relief and peace because his friend had a better death than the old many originally imagined. That is when I knew we were at war, when we were talking about good deaths.

One night we had a Christmas Party in a loft for all of the volunteers. People from all of the U.S. singing God Bless America, it got to me. I kept thinking it felt like a scene from the old WWII films. Then we all started to sing White Christmas and I left.

Christmas night was spent at a local volunteer’s house. We had a wonderful meal and talked about the sadness of New York.

Christmas Day was spent at Ground Zero. Families arrived to spend time with their unrecovered. Police were there to relieve the firefighters for the day. Families sang, placed cards on walls, hugged and cried. The site was 16 square blocks and took four and a half hours to walk around, almost all in silence. There was no doubt this was holy ground. It had the DNA of people from around the world. Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindu, men, women, leaders and servants, gay and straight, uniformed and civilian, the world was united here in death. Everywhere there were memorials, candles and people praying. It was the longest and most solemn Christmas of my life and I was glad I was there to serve.

What I did not recognize at the time was this was also the beginning of my return to Christianity and more surprisingly, to Catholicism. It was the beginning of a number of conversions. There were soldiers all over. The anthrax scare was still going on. I knew the world I knew had changed forever. I started thinking of our campus as a safe place. Not safe from airborne pathogens, just safe from fear. I did not recognize at the time that my job was becoming not just a place where I worked but an extension of my home.

Everyday we received the New York Times. In it they carried pages and pages of obituaries. The goal was to cover everyone who died in the attacks before January 1. It made the people real. Between the realness of the deaths and the soldiers everywhere I knew we were in a dangerous world. I knew we would do whatever it took to keep us from more attacks. I knew that was not nice but it was what folks did when they feared for the safety of others.

I began to think about how we had not changed as a species over the centuries. War and violence continued to escalate in ever vicious cycles. Century after century and we had not changed. I knew we needed forgiveness, we humans needed forgiveness. Slowly it became clear I was not talking about “them”, I was talking about “me”, and I needed forgiveness.

One night after a long day at work a fellow worker and I went for a walk. We went to Ground Zero and then to St. Peter’s Catholic Church. It was on the edge of Ground Zero. Inside people were lightening candles. The service was the Feast of the Holy Innocents but clearly focused on the Innocents who died right behind the church wall. Thirty years earlier Cathi had told me I should consider becoming a Catholic and I laughed. Who wanted to be a Papist? However it was becoming clear I loved ritual, sacraments meant a great deal to me, candles, memorials, order had meaning for me. I was beginning a journey and did not realize it.

I met many folks from the Middle East and from Islamic countries. They mourned the loss of the WTC, they wore American Flags. They spoke of their love of America, of freedom and safety and I knew they were not responsible for these horrible events.

When I got back home I began to study about the life of Francis of Assisi. I began to appreciate “respecting the unique dignity of each individual”. I valued a devout Christian who respected the leader of the Islamic world. The journey was continuing.

So, cleaning the house and coming across a piece of paper has sparked a lot of memories. That is good, I do not want to ever forget that Christmas. The memories are powerful, of clients and students, diversity, friends, food, smells, dreams and nightmares. However, what I remember most was people coming together from all over to help and support one another. And I remember a man from Egypt crying and asking why someone would do this to his home. We are all in this together.


Saturday, December 29, 2007

Christian-Islamic Relations here and in Nigeria

Ochi Agha Nke Eluigwe: Abu Catholic
I am a Muslim

Last week I meet with a priest from Nigeria. We talked about many things. One of the things we touched on was the need for respect for diversity. He told me that when many in the Muslim world reacted to the Pope quoting a Roman Emperor about Islam people in his country responded with violence.

The priest was clear, it was not a matter of Islam being more violent than Christianity. He stated that the Christians in Nigeria did not turn the other cheek and instead responded to violence with more violence.

He was clearly saddened to report that his people (all of the Nigerians) were killing each other, terrorizing one another and destroying property in the name of a loving God.

I was reminded again of the call by Islamic leaders for a dialogue among faiths. This is critical. The voice of reason, the voice of love or at least tolerance must prevail.

I have a colleague who is Muslim. She tells me of the hard decisions she and her family make in deciding where it is safe to travel in America and in Europe. We are scaring one another and where there is fear hatred can not be far off.

In Nigeria the two fastest growing religions are Christianity and Islam. Nigeria is an important nation and it will be important for them to find ways to respect one another and to trust one another.

The Holy Father gave us an example of how to deal with this problem, by being humble and fully engaged. After his scholarly quote resulted in anger, hurt and violence he acted. He had already been planning a trip to Turkey to meet with the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I the spiritual leader of the Orthodox. He used the occasion to meet with Islamic leaders. He prayed with Islamic leaders, in a mosque. He built bridges by authentic action, prayer and love.

We, Americans, must find a way to not be defined as the nation that kills Muslims. We must have a foreign policy that is realistic but not simplistic. Our current foreign policy feeds into the recruiting plans of the very people we are trying to defeat.

What is even harder is to change our hearts. We are concerned about our safety, about the safety of our loved ones. In fear it is easy to revert to simplistic, us-them thinking. We must make sure we do not find ourselves endorsing a cultural war against Islam instead of a war against terror. This is not remotely easy. We need to participate in the dialogue moderate Islamic leaders have called for.

For my Franciscan brothers and sisters it is critical that we continue to embrace the spirit of Francis who sought out the Sultan and in dialogue they grew in mutual respect for one another. This week emphasizes how important is for that spirit of mutual respect to grow and flourish, the alternative is not acceptable.

Democracy in Kenya

Hodi, Hodi

Well, this is a difficult week for democracy. Kenya looks like it was on its way to voting out its current President. However, within 24 hours a healthy lead in election results vanished. The results are questionable. One vote tally reported 105,000 votes out of an area with only 70,000 registered voters! This sounds very familiar to me, I am originally from Chicago and in Chicago every vote better be counted. Still, it highlights how difficult democracy is to achieve and maintain.

The result, riots and violence throughout Kenya. This is sad. Kenya is one of the most developed nations in Africa. Still, it is also divided along tribal lines and people often think of themselves in terms of ethnic identities and not national identities.

Our government has staked a lot on encouraging democracy around the world. That is a difficult proposition. Democracy is not part of many nations’ history or culture. Young nations are often the result of the nation making of colonial powers so that the national identity is much younger than the ethnic division. In other places democracy is working but we are not pleased with the results. Iran is a democracy and yet we are not crazy about who the Iranians have elected. The Palestinians put Hamas in power. Democracy in Iraq threatens to be the Shia over the Sunni and Kurds. Don’t get me wrong. I believe a poor democracy is always better than an effective dictatorship or worse, the tyranny of terrorists.

So let’s pray that moderating voices in Kenya are heard. The church in Kenya needs our prayers and support. Our elected official need to hear from us and hear that we expect our government to call, forcefully, for fair elections and order. In short, let’s fervently pray of peace.

Out of Goshen and into...Pakistan?

So it looked like I was in tune with the world, as if I expected the assassination of Benazir Bhutto. I mean, just the night before my blog was about fanaticism and death in India. Now I kept up with Bhutto’s comings and goings, most America I know did. Just the day before I was listening to a report on the BBC and I was concerned that one of the assassination attempts would finally be successful. Still, I was not paying attention last Thursday morning.

Cathi and I decided to have a day trip together. We had planned to go to Goshen and Elkhart. Elkhart has a wonderful mansion, the Ruthmere Mansion that we planned on visiting.

So, it was off to northern Indiana. I did not listen to the radio and I never heard the news.

We love Goshen. It is an artist colony. It has great antique shops, great resale shops and it has the Old Bag Factory. This is, well, an old bag factory that is converted into numerous shops. We stopped for lunch. Lunch was great, the company very nice. However, we never got to Elkhart. I got a headache that just would not go away.

So we went to the Mennonite shops. One of our favorite things is to spend time with fellow peace-church folks. On our way back we went past Goshen College, a nice little peace college. Then we went past Heifer Project International. Cathi first introduced me to this simple way of helping the poor in developing nations without being condescending.

Finally, when we got home that night I checked my e-mail and then I found out, Benazir Bhutto had been assassinated. I felt sick to my stomach. I have no idea why I was shocked. She had only returned to Pakistan in mid- Oct and there had already been numerous attempts on her life. One left 136 people dead and 450 injured. So why was I surprised?

I liked her. She was the first women elected to leadership in an Islamic country. She was intelligent, had style and was sensitive to woman and family issues.

I know she had been accused of corruption during her two terms as Prime Minster. I don’t know if the accusations were true or an excuse for a coup. I know she was the best hope for democracy in Pakistan and yet had herself appointed President of her political party for life. So she was a complicated person. Still, she was intelligent and fascinating to listen to. Besides, an elected official, no matter how imperfect, is better than a dictator.

She was also brave. She knew the risks of returning to her country and yet she persisted. Her father was the first elected Prime Minister of Pakistan. He was overthrown in a coup and two years later hanged. Her two brothers were murdered. She knew the risk and is a martyr for democracy.

I feel bad for the people of Pakistan. It is so easy to see their grief on the news. I worry about what will happen to Pakistan. The second largest Islamic nation can not afford to dissolve into chaos. A nation with 60 to 100 nuclear weapons with sophisticated delivery systems cannot afford to dissolve into chaos. This is a scary world.

And so the world has lost a moderate leader, a force for democracy, a Harvard graduate, a voice for Islamic women and a voice for the Pakistani poor.

I am glad Cathi and I had our fun day away from a world gone mad. I am happy the world benefited from the dedication and leadership of Benazir Bhutto. And I am very sad at the loss of such a leader.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The Church in India

Indian Catholic Mass

Fanaticism and terror are not limited to fundamentalist/extremists groups representing the Peoples of the Book. True, Jews, Christians and Muslims have been creative and prolific over the centuries in showing the world how to kill in the name of a loving God. However, fanatics of all faiths have more in common with one another than they do with members of their own religion who attempt to follow a faith centered on love.

This holiday season illustrated how fanaticism and hatred is a world problem. In India, in the state of Orissa Hindu fundamentalists went on a destructive rampage. When they were done 13 Christian churches were set on fire, a Christian orphanage was vandalized, a police car was overturned, trains were stopped and 3 Christians were killed. All of this occurred on Christmas Day.

Services were interrupted. Many people were wounded and an additional three Christians are in critical condition.

The tension reflects centuries of conflict between the tiny Christian population in India and the much larger Hindu population. Christians make up less than 2% of the Indian population. However, in the state of Orissa there are 100,000 Christians and 650,000 Hindus.

The state has been the center of anti-Christian sentiment for a long time. In 1968 the state passed an anti-conversion law. In 1999 an Australian missionary and his two sons were murdered. Father Doss, a Catholic priest was also killed in 1999.

The fundamentalist do not only target Christians, they also attack Indian Muslims.

One of the complaints is that Christianity is a Western religion and the product of Colonialism. However, that simply does not fit the facts for the native Christian Church in India.

St. Thomas, one of the 12 apostles of Christ arrived in India in 52 C.E. That means that the early converts to Christianity predate most of European Christianity. St. Thomas established seven churches in India. He was martyred in 72 C.E. The Indian church was one of four Thomite churches of the east. The others included the Chaldean Church, the Edessan Church and the Persian Church.

The Indian church has had multiple influences. It was at one time subordinate to the Persian prelates. There was a time of native born bishops. Then the Chaldean Church dominated and Aramaic, the language of Jesus became the liturgical and business language of Indian Christians! During the 16th century the church came in contact with the Western churches and was infused with new traditions, liturgy and philosophy.

The church has had many transformations but can clearly trace its roots to its early beginnings with St. Thomas. Today the Syro-Malabar Church, in full communion with Rome, is the second largest Eastern Catholic.

So, back to the Christmas Day attacks. It is sad but not surprising that intolerance is part of the subcontinents tradition. Intolerance appears to be one of the shared traditions of the world. Clearly the fundamentalists are attacking fellow Indians with a proud Indian Christian tradition. The fundamentalists are not attacking Westerners or Colonialism. As in Iraq, the numbers are overwhelming. The Christians could not hope to achieve any type of success by fighting back. So now the hard part, to live a faith of love, to love one’s enemies.

The Christians in India like the Christians in Iraq, Syria and Turkey need to pray, that their Christian brothers and sisters around the world are not indifferent to the fate of the decedents of the early churches of the east.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Two Births

Two Births
Carl W. Jylland-Halverson

A cold night in ole Italy saw
the Fool for God
observing all
How the Emperor’s wife and retinue came
to mark the arrival of a royal child
with pageantry and fame

Physicians and clerics
ladies and lords
subjects high and low
Did bow and honor
such a child
in whose veins the royal blood did flow

Trumpets blared and banners flew
The criers announced the news
Dignitaries from the first estate
arrived to pay their dues

The noble Poverello noted
the stark contrast that night
between the regal child
and the long ago
prophesied arrival
of the humble child of light

My King, he said, had no place to stay
His parents poor
and rejected along the way
Beyond the City of David they came
to obey Herod and the rules
of the Roman Empire game

Two royal births touched him
only one would he recreate
to help fellow believers grasp
the significance of the birth upon their fate

To Greccio the saint made his way
to a mountain cave
and to a village people the friar had his say
A simple manger he made that old December night
Gathering animals and townsfolk
he staged the child’s birthplace right

Transformed to Wise men, shepherds and angels all
the townsfolk responded to Francis call
with new eyes their vision was made clear
They knew their Savior was truly near
On that night in Greccio “God made flesh” was real
the simple gift, the love of God, each participant did feel

On that night the Logos
Creator of the all
came to dwell upon the earth
and negate the fall

All dependent for His care
to be fed and changed
self-made vulnerable and bare
He gave up all
to be one
with the weak, the poor, the ones who gave the call

God made Flesh
the cycle began
humility to take a stand
Against a world of power, cruelty and greed
from Incarnate to Passion
but first a child lying where the animals did feed

A simple town and a simple man
came to know the Creator’s plan
the night a humble birth again took place
when a humble friar was open to God’s Grace

And so Assisi’s Fool for God
observing all helped others see
a humble birth
self-sent for you and me
A king, a priest, a judge, an act of Grace
this humble birth was Love from Love, God’s embrace

The living nativity started on the night
when a simple friar’s faith
illuminated Greccio with a love glowing bright
in thanksgiving to a Creator who choose to dwell on earth
of a Creator who stepped down from heaven and experienced a simple child’s birth

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Thank You

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Carroll College National Champion

On Dec. 1 our old nemesis, Carroll College of Montana beat USF for the NAIA semifinals This was our fourth time playing this team and our fourth time losing to them. We are a great football school, 100 wins in 10 years, three times to the National Championship , we are great. They however are phenomenal. Today they defeated the University of Sioux Falls. This was Carroll’s fifth National Championship in six years!

Last year was their rebuilding year and we played Sioux Falls who also defeated us.

Now here’s the thing, and if you quote me I’ll deny it. I really, really like Carroll College. I want us to beat them, clobber them, crush them, but in a loving, nurturing fellowship kinda way. Just so when it is over we win, they lose and we are the champs! However, if we can’t be the National Champion, I want it to be Carroll.

They are Champions of Character. When our team first went out to Montana the school gave a gracious tour of the campus and athletic facilities to the visiting players parents. Both times I saw them play in Tennessee I mingled with the Saints fans. They were nice, easy to get along with folks.

Part of the charm of NAIA schools is that they are suppose to value education first. Athletics is part of becoming well-rounded leaders. That happens at Carroll. They have been ranked in the top ten western schools for the past 13 years.

Their forensic team is ranked in the top five of all universities in the United States. Their faculty consistently wins honors and 13 of the faculty members are Fulbright Scholars.

For the ninth straight years in a row Carroll has ranked in the 95+ percentile on the Educational Testing Service’s major field test in biology. That ranking that places their biology students in the top tier of over 13,000 college and university students nationwide.

For the second time in the last four years, Carroll College has a team rated Outstanding Winner in the international Mathematical Contest in Modeling, placing them in the elite company of the other winning teams representing Harvard, MIT, Duke, Rice, RPI, CU-Boulder, UC-Davis, and 2 teams from China.

So, if we cannot be the National Champions (this year) then it is good to see another quality Catholic University be the champ. Carroll College is a school that is a winner on the field and off. Congrats Saints, just know, one of these days….

Friday, December 7, 2007

Don, Appliance Shopping and the Dead Sea Scrolls!

So today Cathi and I had to go shopping for a new stove. It just seemed like one of those jobs that had to be done, it was important to normal functioning but not at all interesting. I did like the company. Cathi and I went out to eat first and that was fun. Then on to the drudgery, appliance shopping. Well, I could not have been more wrong.

Our salesman, Don, was a friendly, easy going guy. He looked to be about my age. We talked and I made my purchase. Cathi went to do more shopping while I worked on the paperwork.

Don than asked about my name and we started talking about Scandinavia (the other Holy land!). Turns out Don lived in Sweden for a half a year. He attended a nondenominational Bible College. I am guessing he went to Holsby Brunn. He also visited Aaland Islands. These are islands that are populated by Swedes but in 1809 Russia made Sweden turn over the islands to Finland. After changes in the Russian Empire and the Duchy of Finland the islands, which wanted to return to Sweden became autonomous. I just sat there thinking, “I didn’t know that.”

So Don and I talked about faith and Scandinavia, two great topics of conversation. On a return trip to the islands Don met an aerial photographer and got a private plane trip around the island. Happened years ago and Don was still smiling. You could tell he was picturing the scenery as he recalled his adventure.

As I walked up to the service desk he told me that at the end of the six months of study he then took a tour of Israel. I asked him if he got to the Dead Sea, he had. Two days ago I did a class presentation on the Dead Sea Scrolls, I had so many questions!

Yep, he had been to Qumran. He had been to the Shrine of the Book which held the Dead Sea Scrolls. He had been to Masada. The night before going to Masada he spent the night at a Bedouin oasis.

Don and his wife had lead Bible Studies in Mishawaka. He recalled by names the professors and graduate and doctorate students from the University of Notre Dame who attended his study groups. Many of his students were from China, India and Africa.

Don was a fascinating guy. I think I will have to get to know him. This was the best appliance shopping I have ever experienced!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

A Call for Muslim-Christian Dialogue

I Am A Muslim
138 Muslim scholars have called for an Islamic-Christian dialogue. The dialogue is to be based on the shared foundations of love of God. This was an extraordinary step. Many faiths have clear key leaders, Islam has no unifying leader. This call appears to be the result of a building consensus that rejects a radicalized faith. 300 Protestant leaders from the U.S. have already responded positively to this call for dialogue.

The Pope has accepted the invitation and reciprocated by inviting the scholars to the Vatican. "Without ignoring or downplaying our differences as Christians and Muslims, we can and therefore should look to what unites us, namely the belief in one God," the Vatican wrote in a message signed by Vatican Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone.

Franciscans have long had contact with Muslims. During the Fifth Crusade St. Francis went to Damietta, a city in Egypt, near the Mediterranean. There he met with “the enemy”, Sultan Malik-al-Kamil. Francis entered the camp of “the enemy” without any weapons. Francis had long ago given up a desire to be a warrior and viewed others as his brothers and sisters. It is speculated that Francis and his traveling companion, Brother Illuminato were accepted into the camp because the Muslims viewed them as Christian Wise Men.

The Sultan and the Fool for God, talked, and talked and talked. Francis talked of the joys of being a Christian. However, he did not criticize Islam or the Prophet. Instead, the Sultan was impressed with Francis and Francis was impressed with the fervor and style of worship Muslims displayed. It was real dialogue made possible by authentic and mutual respect.

And so today the process begins again. This time initiated by our Muslim brothers. The price of failure would be high. It is true that there are new Christian martyrs every day. We must remember and honor those martyrs. At the same time we must remember that Muslims do not have a monopoly on religious fanaticism. Protestant and Catholic Christians had been making martyrs in Northern Ireland for decades. Intra-Christian fighting has had a long and infamous history in almost every continent. We would not want to confuse Christians with the fanatics who have killed in Christ name. We must apply the same restraint and understanding with our Muslim brothers who have stretched out their hands to ours.We must view our brothers and sisters as brothers and sisters.

It is time to put at least as much effort into building bridges as we have all put into blowing them up. It is time to pray for peace.It is time to talk.