David R. Woolley, a Friend from Minneapolis who runs a software design company, sent us the following idea for how Friends might turn the 10th anniversary of 9/11 into a national day of reconciliation:
I woke up one morning last week with an idea in my head that would not go away.
This coming September 11th will be the 10-year anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. That event, of course, instantly launched the United States into a new era of wars in Islamic lands abroad, and fear, hatred, and oppression of Muslims here in America that is still very much with us today.
The 10-year anniversary will no doubt be an occasion for heavy media attention and an intense flurry of memorials, speeches, editorials, and demonstrations. The effect could be one of fanning the flames of hatred and distrust – or, it could be an opportunity for honest dialog, mutual forgiveness, and reconciliation.. Realistically, there will probably be some of both, but it would be great if the energy behind reconciliation and mutual understanding is strong enough to make its way into public consciousness.
So, here’s the idea:
9/11 this year is a Sunday. What if Quaker meetings were to pair up with mosques and hold joint worship services? What if Friends were to attend Friday prayers at a mosque, and Muslims were to attend worship at a Quaker meeting on Sunday? It would make for a weekend of interfaith worship, fellowship, and learning, from 9-9-11 to 9-11-11.
It’s possible that joint worship might not be acceptable even to some people who favor interfaith friendship. But shared worship is just one idea. Cooperative events could take many forms: coming together for a shared feast, or a storytelling gathering, or to perform and appreciate one another’s music, or to learn about each other’s beliefs and practices. Whatever form the event might take, the point would be to connect and recognize one another’s humanity — and to demonstrate to the rest of the world that Christians and Muslims need not fear and distrust each other.
If even ONE partnership between one mosque and one Quaker meeting could be formed, it would be great.
If SEVERAL partnerships between Quaker meetings and mosques could be formed, it would be fantastic.
If this idea could spread beyond Quaker meetings, with HUNDREDS of partnerships forming between Friends meetings, other Christian churches, synagogues, and mosques all over America, it would be too big a story for the mainstream media to ignore. Maybe it could begin to turn the tide.
If anything like this is to happen, it will have to be as the result of many individuals and small groups picking up the ball and running with it in their own communities. For my part, I plan do what I can to to promote it in Minneapolis-St. Paul, building on the connections that have been established through FNVW’s conference earlier this month on “Non-Violence in the Islamic Traditions.” And I hope to plant seeds by disseminating the idea as widely as possible.
As a first step toward spreading this idea, I’ve created a Facebook page titled “9-11-11”. If you’re on Facebook, you can find it and share it at www.facebook.com/pages/9-11-11/199053100133766
Let’s make this September 11 a National Day of Reconciliation. And let us as Quakers lead the way.