A song came to mind recently when my husband and I listened to a news story on the CBC radio program As It Happens. The story concerned a Muslim community in Arkansas that had been vandalized in October of 2016. Several vandals spray painted swastikas and curse words on the exterior of the mosque. ‘Go Home’ was emblazoned on the windows.
One of the vandals, sentenced to community service and a hefty fine was facing six years in prison because he was unable to keep up the payments of the fine he had been given.
The leaders of the mosque chose to pay this young man’s fine, to keep him from going to jail. The interviewer was incredulous, “Why would you pay his fine, when he had vandalized your place of worship?” she asked.
“Because he apologized; he showed remorse, and we forgave him. He was not the instigator and no one told him to write the letter he brought to us. We did the only thing we could do, we responded with love.”
This story, heard at the very beginning of a new year, filled me with such hope. We need to hear more stories like this in the media. The world would be a better place for it. Stories like this one can truly help to change attitudes…to turn the world around. “We responded with love.”
I’m not one to make New Year’s resolutions (I don’t consider January 1st to be my new year), but I think I’d like to make one this year and I challenge everyone to do the same. If we resolve to live each day as God wishes us to live – with love and forgiveness in our hearts – how might we change the world in a year’s time? We can get bogged down with thoughts that one person cannot change the world, but we can no longer afford to think that way. One person’s actions; one Muslim community’s actions have a ripple effect that grows and grows, far beyond our imagining.
Take a leap of faith and plunge into this New Year with greater love in your heart. Don’t hold on to grudges or past hurts – forgive and lighten your load for 2018. Margery Frisch
My heart shall sing of the day you bring, let the fires of your justice burn.
Wipe away all tears, for the dawn draws near, and the world is about to turn!
Canticle of the Turning, Rory Cooney 1990