by melinda bak
We’re beyond indebted to the military, police, and civilians who defend a war-like battle-line. Politicians peddle border-closing tonics, schemes of more stringent-refugee-screening, stepped-up intelligence, and the remedy of more boots on the ground. But, honestly, so far, none of it has been enough to slow the incoming waves of terror.
could the antidote
be as homegrown as the terror-networks themselves
Meanwhile, in our own neighborhoods, we wonder if the cure is something we can swallow. Integration? Assimilation? Notions which, terrifyingly, include us. We wonder, can we actually integrate immigrants without opening our homes and pouring tea for Syrians, Afghans, Iranians, Iraqis, and Somalis? One thing is clear. If we don’t disarm the distance, this war of terror will prosper simply because we’ve allowed it to cut us off from one another.
our separateness, our captivity to fear, is our silent collusion
When those dissimilar from us are secluded in their own ghettos, then the loudest voice in the neighborhood may well be an ill-intended, “Allahu Akbar!” followed by a deafening spray of shrapnel. Using God’s name to terrorize is haram (حَرَام), forbidden by Allah. But, bullies make their own rules. Bullies use God, use their friends, use us.
bullies thrive on intimidation
It took some months for the Middle Easterners we had befriended, to actually agree to come for tea, or as they say, "chai." Who were we? Could we be trusted? Would we harm them? Yes, those questions went both ways. And still, we set the tea to brew. It was awkward at first. But we were equally curious; family, career, school, politics and religion, we questioned and listened to one another with unfamiliar freedom.
Departing with words of gratitude, our friends confided that in their four-years in America, this was the first time anyone outside their community had invited them home. I am not proud of that.But in that moment, the terrorists who threaten us all, lost. In that moment, the us/them-divide was bridged.
what kept us disconnected and defenseless,
was overcome simply by reclaiming our right to gather;
a freedom we ourselves had neglected
I learned that day, that we are the boots on the ground.
We fight not with arms, but by disarming the distance. We are not helpless.
Perhaps I am part of a silent majority, it’s hard to know since the hullabaloo of haters so easily silences sounds of stirring chai. Gratefully, I know bold Muslims, brave Jews, and courageous Christians who have refused to do the terrorists' bidding. They have chosen to rise above fear and indifference. They have chosen to abandon the thought-ghettos of segregation, to resist unconscious collusion with terrorists.
within each of us, there is a nonconformist rising up,
convinced that terror need not have the final word
Bullies remain and terrorists are real. But, we have the promise of freedom and the hope of community. We can do what other homegrown networks cannot. We can do what governments cannot. We can reclaim our right to gather. We can build community, one invitation at a time.
I have an editorial comment or found a mistake.