When the words similar to this “the day will come when we will join hands and sign that old Negro spiritual free at Last Free at Last, thank God Almighty we are free at last” were spoken by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., many may not have realized just how long it would take before this happened. Some even doubted that it ever would and certain parts of our society wishes that it never does. Even with such strong head-winds driven by those who wish we wouldn’t, we are now given an opportunity to make one “giant Leap’ toward that more perfect union.
Our first opportunity comes in the form of “Park 51” or better known as the New York mosque development. Some say that it would be a victory for those who attacked us if we allow this development to go ahead where it is being proposed; I say that the Bible teaches us to turn the other cheek and we can do no better damage to those attackers cause than allowing it to proceed as proposed. “The imam leading the effort to build an Islamic center and mosque near the World Trade Center site said Monday that a resolution to the raging debate over its location is being examined.” “We are exploring all options as we speak right now, and we are working to what will be a solution, God willing, that will resolve this crisis, diffuse it and not create any unforeseen or untoward circumstances that we do not want to see happen,” Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf said during a question-and-answer session following a speech before the Council on Foreign Relations.” “The imam said he wanted to clarify a “misperception” that the Islamic center’s proposed site was sacred ground.” “It is absolutely disingenuous as some have suggested that the block is hallowed ground,” he said, noting its proximity to strip joints and betting parlors.” “During his remarks, Rauf raised the question of whether the project was worth the controversy.” “The answer is a categorical yes,” he said. “Why? Because this center will be a place for all faiths to come together in mutual respect.” (Peltz, Jennifer, 9/13/2010, Associated Press, Imam says resolution to NYC mosque debate in works, Retrieved from firstname.lastname@example.org). A few things need to be made abundantly clear. Point one is this development is much more than a place for Muslims to worship, it is also a place for many others to worship as well. Point two is that those attackers are consistently saying that it is because America has nothing but hatred in their hearts for Muslims and Islam that we would soundly defeat them by showing the true overwhelming support for this venture as it is. We will be able to stand on our actions and not just our rhetoric.
While this next opportunity has little to do with the New York City mosque, it does have a lot to do with the dream of Dr. King. For those who marched for civil rights, it was a march for all civil rights and not just for African-Americans. This journey now continues with the march for civil rights for gay and lesbians. “For 17 years, Maj. Margaret Witt rose steadily through the Air Force and Air Force Reserves, winning plaudits from colleagues, strong performance reviews from superiors and service medals from the department.” “A flight nurse, she treated wounded troops during Desert Storm and was featured in Air Force promotional materials for years.” “Her efforts to maintain a low profile ended in 2004, when the jilted husband of a woman Major Witt had started to date sent a note to the Air Force disclosing her orientation.” “On Thursday, a federal judge in California ruled that the don’t ask, don’t tell policy was unconstitutional.” (Dao, James, 9/12/2010, New York Times, Days after ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ Ruling, another Challenge Heads to Court, Retrieved from www.nytimes.com). Would it not be the dreams of all too finally see American citizens as one people with more in common than we have in differences? While we may never join hands literally, we could all be willing to try. We have the chance now to demonstrate that when this nation speaks of tolerance, everyone will know we speak from experience.