I went to an all-girl, Catholic high school. September 11th of my junior year our world changed. I walked into school late that morning and as I walked through the eerily quiet hallway I stopped just outside one of the physics labs to view the TV. The building was silent except for the low humming of the news coverage.
The next day of school, again walking the same halls, I paused outside the same classroom as I had on September 11th. This time, I was not the only student who stopped to look through the doorway. No one paused to watch a TV, to listen to news coverage. Everyone paused because a beloved teacher looked drastically different. She, a Muslim woman, for the first time was not wearing her hijab.
It was shocking.
It was profoundly sad.
It was apparent on her face that there was so much pain, so much sadness. Fourteen years later, I still remember looking through that doorway seeing her hair and her neck for the first time. It was a horrible, horrible feeling - like something else had been lost in all of this hate.
The next school year, she spoke to our religion class about her faith. She spoke of the history of Islam, her beliefs, how she chooses her faith, how Islam links to Christianity, to Judaism. It was a fascinating and important lesson for all of us.
What was different for our class than the classes she had spoken to before, she spoke about September 11th and the day she chose to remove the hijab. When she spoke of that choice, that action, that same intense sadness flooded her face as it had the year before. She shared with us that it was her students that spoke to her about it while she tried to teach through it, tried to stay focused. It was her students who asked her to wear it again. To not be afraid. To continue to live every part of her faith. Her face slowly came to life when she shared that. She blotted away tears as the gentle smile returned.
One of C's translators gifted us a prayer rug several years ago. He gifted me a head scarf as well. They are both beautiful gifts given with the deepest respect and kindness and good faith. He and C shared stories, shared their faiths, shared meals, shared cultures. I am grateful and honored to have these gifts.
I am Christian. I am a conservative. I am a white woman. I am deeply, deeply disturbed by the hate that has poured out from my country. It saddens me, infuriates me. I always thought we were above this, that we were greater than this. That we were not this ignorant, we were not this vengeful. This hate fuels the hate of an ugly, barbaric entity that is gaining ground, is gaining strength, and legitimately threatens who we are as a nation, as a world, as a people. Such intense hate allows for their strength. The very existence of such thought threatens who we are, what we believe, what we stand for. It is not American. It is not Christian. To say such things, believe such things in "protection" of our nation, of a faith, is so misguided, so twisted, so far from truth. We will tear ourselves apart while the enemy watches, gains strength, recruits from our hate.
It isn't the nation I know. It isn't the world I want to live in. It isn't the America I want to give my children. I will not pass this hate to my boys. I will not give such a world to my kids.
We are to be the beacon of hope, not a harbor for hate. We are to be the home for the weary, the persecuted, the hungry. We are to be sanctuary for people of faith or of no faith. We are to be the safe-haven. We are to give hope, to inspire dreams. This is the nation I want my children to know. This is the legacy I want them to fight for and cling to and pass on. To find Christ in people. To be as Christ to all people. To be the good. To search for good. To live with good.
We cannot be silent to hate. We cannot be good men and women and remain silent. How dare we let this become our nation, to let such a call come from a presidential candidate. To ban a religion! To ban a faith! To ban a classification of people. To treat others as less than. To classify people of a faith as less than.
How dare we.
Decades ago, our entire world said never again. Never again. How quickly we forget.