I am NOT happy to be here. I am not happy that we are gathered this evening. I am angry that we must be here, tonight, together.
I am terrified for the future of our world on its current path. I am worried that our children will not be able to experience the love that was once present.
Yes – all of these feelings are with me tonight. And, yet, I feel blessed to be given the opportunity to show my support for my Muslim brothers and sisters – and all of those gathered here this evening. I am thrilled to see so much support from this community, just as this community showed the same support just a few months ago to the Jewish community. I feel the love present here…and I pray that this love is felt by members of the Muslim community today and every day going forward.
I recognize and understand…and feel the anger that others, especially those of the Muslim community, must be feeling. I want to sit down, hold their hands and cry with them. I want to be able to tell them that everything will be ok. This was not supposed to happen…ever. And, yet, this was not the first time, and unfortunately, I do not believe it will be the last time…at least not if we do not figure out a way to love each other, even in our disagreements and misunderstandings.
Let this be my pledge. I will work with my Muslim brothers and sisters and anyone else who believes that love can and will overcome hate. Until my dying day, until I take my last breath – I will work towards recognizing the most important words of the Hebrew Bible – V’ahavtah Lereiacha Kamocha. Until everyone person in the world truly learns to “Love your neighbor as yourself,” I will not give up fighting for what is right – for all of us to live in a world of peace and understanding.
I will end my words this evening with a prayer I wrote for today:
“Praying for All of God’s Children”
We have many names for You, God. Yet, our hearts yearn for the same.
We pray for many reasons, God. Yet, our minds desire for the same.
We call You Beloved, Shechinah, Ar Rahman, God, Adonai, Allah. Yet, our words wish for the same.
We reach out for You in all times for a variety of reasons. Yet today, our souls ache for the same.
We turn to You, today, God, to ask for healing for all of those injured in Christchurch, New Zealand.
We beckon to You, today, God, to ask for Your mercy upon those who have entered eternity.
We plea to You, today, God, to ask for Your strength in our attempts at understanding.
We beg of You, today, God to help us end the terror, the killing, the destruction, the pain.
Together – all of us – Jew, Christian, Muslim…Jain, Buddhist, Hindu, Sikh…Pagan, Agnostic, Atheist…
Together, we pray, we hope, we dream, we demand, we need love to overcome hate.
Together, we will work so that our children will live in a world of understanding and love.
Together, we will ensure that every human has the right to pray as they are…in safety and peace.
Bieawn Allah, (beahown ileh)
With God’s Help