Tag Archives: “Islamic Center”

Freedom – What is it worth?

Freedom
Photo by: Moe

More often it seems people are concerned about what is happening to their freedoms or one person’s freedom is standing in the way of another person’s freedom.

One person’s freedom of speech can become bullying or harassment to another which has been making headlines recently across the nation even inspiring the “It Gets Better” campaign.

Freedoms have been fought for throughout America’s history but when one person’s freedom has become a source of disrespect, intolerance, hate or the cause of a crime, this is no longer just someone exercising their freedoms but instead it is an act against someone else’s rights.

What exactly is a freedom and what is a right? Where should the line be drawn and who should draw the line?

A freedom is very difficult to just flat out define but it is being free willed, making one’s own choices, having liberty, not being physically bound or confined or not having one’s future pre-determined. Freedom is being able to have something that is yours and know you will be able to hold on to it.

A right is the freedom to do something or the justifiable claim or entitlement to something. Some may say a right is something you are born with and die with like the rights spelled out in the U.S. Constitution. However, this has been something that is argued that these are more a privilege because they can be taken away from you. For example, prisoners lose many of their rights. However, we are looking at this primarily as freedoms.

Can a person have too much freedom? Is it possible for freedom to be taken too far or to be misinterpreted?

If a person had 100% freedom to do absolutely anything he/she wanted this could and most likely would begin to infringe on those around them. Each person having their own freedoms would expect to have the same apply to them, 100% freedom for themselves. This couldn’t work.

It’s very easy to come up with a quick example that is not extreme but more or less a day to day example. Imagine a busy supermarket, long lines at the register and everyone is on their cell phones, talking loudly and in no hurry to get off. That includes the cashier, the person ahead of you and the person ahead of them. Everyone is just freely talking. It may seem rude but is it breaking the law?

Putting one’s freedoms aside to respect another person and/or their freedoms has made life not only tolerable but has made America a place where people feel safe enough to speak up, be religious or choose not to practice religion, pick and represent political parties, vote, chase their dreams or follow in the footsteps of previous generations.

But, is this America being pushed aside as more individuals are consumed by personal freedoms instead of overall respect, safety and equality?

Not too long ago, in the top of the news was the Islamic Center in NYC. The issue originally stated that people were concerned with it being so close to Ground Zero.

However, once the media became more involved, the issue became more against Islam and the NYC Islamic Center wasn’t the only one having issues with people not wanting to see it built.

Another proposed Islamic Center in Murfreesboro, Tennessee ran into extreme debates even though they had been in the community for two decades. Their plans were for a larger center than their already existing one. However, opponents went to court to try to put a halt to their plans.

This past week, Chancellor Robert Corlew III denied the opponents of the Mosque an emergency injunction that would block construction so for now, it looks like plans can move forward.

What happened to freedom of religion? Who decides where the line of freedom is drawn? Then, is it really freedom?

Remember the Florida Pastor, Terry Jones? He was willing to go against top brass in the military, Lt. Gen. William Caldwell and General David Petraeus, as well as multiple religious and community leaders who urged him to reconsider his plans to burn the Holy Book of Islam, the Qu’ran, on September 11th of this year.

Why would he do such an act? Because he felt Islam was of the devil and he wanted to express how he felt.

Once his story reached the news and the news spread worldwide what he was planning to do, safety for American troops in the Middle East was a great concern as well as the safety for Americans abroad due to retaliation for what Terry Jones was planning to do. However, with these details, Terry Jones did not want to back down.

Was he breaking the law or was he just exercising his right to free speech and to share how he felt about Islam?

Terry Jones changed his mind at the last minute after all of the attention and after a great deal of fear had set in due to riots in the Middle East. This was going on at the same time as the issue over the Islamic Center in NYC and the one in Tennessee was going on. Tensions were already high. In the U.S., many people were debating different views and politicians had become involved as the 2010 mid-term elections were approaching.

When does one person’s freedom hinder another person’s freedom?

Members of the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas have gone to military funerals across the country but not to pay respects to the families or say goodbye to a friend or loved one. They are armed with signs that say, “God Hates You” and “Thank God for Dead Soldiers”. They feel America’s war casualties are God’s wrath for tolerating homosexuality. Is this really the time or place for a protest or picketing? Again, are they breaking a law? Do they have the right to do this? Do these families have the right to peacefully say goodbye to their loved ones?

Freedom is something that has set the U.S. apart from many other countries around the world. Many countries do not allow near as many freedoms as the U.S. allows and although this sets us apart, this can also be a wedge that drives a great divide through the nation. The more one person’s freedom takes away from another person’s freedom, the nation loses its freedom and therefore what separates the U.S. from many countries around the world.

Freedoms lost today may not affect you, as it happens to one person or a group of people today it can happen to another tomorrow and then more people over time.

Americans must understand that every freedom we have today has come to us through someone’s great effort, fight and even death. Freedoms that have been gained over time can also be lost. They’re never to be taken lightly or for granted; not your own freedoms or someone else’s.

To be truly free requires the respect of the freedom of others and to know the limits of our freedoms. Then we, and those around us, can have a more meaningful and lasting freedom.

Who is dividing our Nation?

Just this past weekend, Glenn Beck was holding a “Restoring Honor” rally in Washington D.C. which according to most counts drew just under 100,000 attendees. Why a rally? What was the purpose behind the rally? What were people supposed to walk away with or walk away feeling? Is Glenn Beck’s radio show going to take on a new “image” now?

This rally had been in the news and drawing quite a bit of attention as the day approached mainly due to the fact this rally was on the 47th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.

Glenn Beck said he did not know this when setting the date and location but when he found out, he did not make any changes which upset quite a large number of people and caused a lot of media attention.

A Fox colleague, Greta Van Susteren, said he should move his event for sensitivity reasons. Just because a person can do something doesn’t mean they should do something.

A similar argument is going on in New York and around the world about the building of an Islamic Center in New York City near the World Trade Center site, and whether by doing that would be insensitive. Although it may be legal to do this, it may not be sensitive to the families and others involved in the 9/11 tragedies.

Although these two situations are quite different, they both require taking other people’s feelings into consideration and looking at the overall end result. Is it really necessary to go through with the initial plans or would a simple change and some compromise bring the same end result with a better overall showing of tolerance and respect?

At the “Restoring Honor” rally, an organizer said it wouldn’t be about politics but to pay tribute to military personnel and others “who embody our nation’s founding principles of integrity, truth and honor.” There were funds raised for a group in Tampa, Florida – Special Operations Warrior Foundation. Nearly 5 million dollars was raised and more can be donated online for this Foundation by visiting their website.

The rally attendees appeared to enjoy the speakers and the overall event. There were people waving flags, wearing patriotic shirts and there were different times of applause including the playing of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

Glenn Beck talked about the fact that even though people have different political views, for the sake of the Nation, Americans should focus on their principles and values. He urged Americans to turn to God and reminded people that change begins with each individual.

That is what Glenn Beck was saying at the “Restoring Honor” rally on Saturday.

In an interview with Fox on Sunday following the rally, Beck decided to go after Obama’s religion once again to claim that Obama “is a guy who understands the world through liberation theology, which is oppressor and victim.”

“People aren’t recognizing his version of Christianity,” Beck added.

Beck said that liberation theology is at the core of Obama’s “belief structure”.

“You see, it’s all about victims and victimhood; oppressors and the oppressed; reparations, not repentance; collectivism, not individual salvation. I don’t know what it is, other than it’s not Muslim, it’s not Christian. It’s a perversion of the gospel of Jesus Christ as most Christians know it,” Beck said.

As the Nation once again approaches another anniversary of the terrorist attacks of September 11th, the U.S. seems to be more divided than ever.

As much as people talk about the need for the leaders in Washington to work together and children and teens getting along, it seems the average, everyday citizen is not passing along that message in their actions.

The problems of intolerance, hate and violence against those of different racial, ethnic and religious groups shows how this is not only a reoccurring problem but a growing trend. And, the fact a younger generation is showing these signs of intolerance as well, is a signal this will continue yet again into the following generations if nothing is done.

If a voter wants their leaders in Washington to be bipartisan, then demand that of them or don’t re-elect them. If they continue to get re-elected, then it shows them their constituents are okay with their behavior. It also shows the world that the Americans are okay with this behavior from their leaders.

If a person is showing unacceptable behavior such as bullying, racism, sexism or abuse of any kind, this is not okay and should be dealt with immediately. If it isn’t, then it appears to be okay.

If a child is seeing this from their parents, teachers, adults or those around them, then they are going to pick this up. If this is being seen through the television, then turn it off. Children have to know this is unacceptable behavior and it’s not tolerated.

When people in the media are daily insulting the President, the leader of our Country or saying demeaning things about people of different races or religions, belittling people in our society and it appears Americans are okay with this because they are tuning into their shows on a daily basis, they will continue the same behavior and sponsors will continue to pay for their programs.

Yes, there is a First Amendment Right for freedom of speech but that doesn’t mean people have to listen.

This is a country built on freedoms and rights for everyone and a lot of people have fought and died for those freedoms.

There is also the Second Amendment for the right to bear arms. The fact of a person having the right to have a gun is taken differently by different people. Some people want the right to have a gun in their house to protect their family. Others want the right to have a gun on them when they are out in public. The fact of a person having a gun in a public place makes people very uncomfortable and yet, this is something that the Second Amendment is looked to for a person to argue this case.

If everyone only worried about their freedoms and rights and not about what that did to another person’s freedoms and rights, then this country would not be free at all. People would be living in fear and afraid to say anything to anybody. Just because people have freedoms and rights shouldn’t mean they hinder or threaten another person or make another person feel demeaned or belittled.

To come together as a country, it isn’t about judging the other person and tearing down another person’s rights to make sure our own rights aren’t touched. There always has to be people looking out for the freedoms and rights of others.

It is about putting our Nation first which means looking out for one another. It means making sure the freedoms and rights that so many people fought for and died for are honored.

It means the Christian community needs to stop judging whether our President who has publicly said he is a Christian, really is a Christian. Do they judge each other in the same way or is that judgment reserved specifically for President Obama? As a Christian community, there are a great number of things that could be done with the time and effort they have put into trying to tear down the President’s faith. There are many people in need during these hard economic times. There are a great number of struggling families.

If Glenn Beck really wants to help “restore honor”, he can do it daily via his radio show and his show on Fox News instead of daily attacking the President of the Country he calls home. If a person wants to restore something, build on it. Don’t attack it and try to tear it down.

Life is not always about politics and politics is not always about Republicans and Democrats.

The focus needs to be put back on the individuals that make up this Nation, this great Nation, the UNITED States of America.

Recovery for America Pt. 4 – Intolerance, inequality and discrimination

Everyday there are more stories, news coverage, talk between friends and families about issues that are not only dividing the nation but are also dividing people, even causing arguments between complete strangers. The discussion is over the building of the mosque (Islamic Center) at Ground Zero.

The online social media website such as Facebook and Twitter show these divisions as well. On Facebook, soon after a ”hot topic” news story runs, the headlines or video clips will post and the comments themselves become a place for open arguments going back and forth, lines drawn down the middle. On Twitter, “hashtags” which typically are names to form groups, can often be used to make a clear point or in 140 characters or less, a clear confrontation can take place back and forth for all to see or jump in and join.

What are the issues? The arguments are more often about things that have nothing to do with things that a person can change or have control over and more about things that fall into a person’s constitutional rights, religion, race and a person’s national origin. What’s different about these arguments is the social media and the internet’s ability for things to swell up much quicker into larger groups of both support and hate, so both sides seem to grow much larger overnight. Both good and bad information gets passed around much quicker and what is said on the news, on a website or in an interview makes its way around the world in a moment. However, most often good things don’t go “viral”. Bad news travels fast.

As each new generation begins, it has been a new opportunity to bring up a more open-minded generation. That does not mean a generation of people that “give in” or a generation that does not understand its culture. It means a generation that does not carry with them the burdens of intolerance but a generation that has the ability to see each other as who they are and not what they are. A generation that sees people for what they bring to society and not what a group of them has done or what has been done to them. It is okay to understand history but not let history control the future but to learn from history and not allow it to repeat itself.

With the U.S. having such a diverse people within its borders, there is only more to gain, more to grow and more to learn. By having so many adverse feelings against each other, it is only hurting the nation as a whole and many opportunities are being lost for everyone.

In NYC, many people are upset about the idea of the Islamic Center near Ground Zero. This has been an extremely sensitive subject for so many.

President Obama released a statement on a person’s right to practice religion this past Friday.

“As a citizen, and as president, I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as everyone else in this country,” Obama said, weighing in for the first time on a controversy that has risen in New York City and the nation.

“That includes the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and ordinances,” he said. “This is America, and our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakable.”

The plan now is to turn the property into a 13-story, $100 million Islamic Center. This is being developed by a group call the Cordoba Initiative. The Cordoba Initiative says on its website that its goal is to foster a better relationship between the Muslim World and the West, “steering the world back to the course of mutual recognition and respect and away from heightened tensions.”

The Center’s board will include members from other religions and will explore including an interfaith chapel at the center.

The Center will include a basketball court, swimming pool, auditorium and culinary school as well as a mosque and mediation rooms.

We believe it will be a place where the counter momentum against extremism will begin, “the Imam’s wife, Daisy Khan to the Associated Press. “We are committed to peace.

Across the U.S., different towns have rallied against mosque being built as well. This isn’t just in NYC near Ground Zero. In Temecula, California, opponents brought dogs to protest a 25,000 sq. ft. mosque that would sit on 4 acres. Opponents say it would turn the town into a haven for Islamic extremist, but mosque leaders say they are peaceful and just need more room to serve members.

A proposed mosque in July is raising concerns in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Proponents allege the opponents are displaying religious intolerance while people fighting the mosque say zoning issues and worries about Islamic radicalism are their chief concerns.

Several hundred opponents faced off to counter protesters. The rhetoric was heated. Protestors bore signs with slogans such as “MOSQUE LEADERS SUPPORT KILLING CONVERTS.”

Mosque leader Essam Fathy, who helped plan the new building in Murfreesboro, has lived there for 30 years. “I didn’t think people would try that hard to oppose something that’s in the Constitution,” he said. “The Islamic center has been here since the early 80’s, 12 years at this location. There’s nothing new except it’s going to be a little bigger.”

Zuhdi Jasser, president of American Islamic Forum for Democracy, a nonprofit that advocates for reform and modernization of Islam, said opposing mosque is no way to prevent terrorism.

A study by professors at Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy and the University of North Carolina back up Jasser’s statement. The study found that mosque, religious bookstores, and other communal associations that bring Muslim-Americans together, prevent radicalization.

By taking the time to learn and understand a person, their religion and culture, it gives more of a chance to grow and develop in one’s own life as well as allowing one to accept a person more for their character and who they are and not judging them by who one thinks they are by their appearance, misunderstandings or what may have been heard by someone else.

Today it may be someone else being unfairly judged, someone else’s religion, race or culture. The hateful words may be directed at someone else. Those tables can be turned. Intolerance is never okay. Hate is never okay. Discrimination is never okay. Sitting by while a hate crime happens is never okay. Embrace our diverse Nation and learn about others, their culture and religions. Practice tolerance and pass it down to the younger generations.