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Thursday, February 12, 2015

Friend of the Slain Muslims in North Carolina: An Example of Calmness, Courage, and Kindness in Grief

On Wednesday morning at a technical conference I attended in Miami, the female CEO of an impressive nanotech company from North Carolina gave the first presentation of the day, a departure from the printed schedule. She appeared to be Muslim since she was wearing a hijab (a traditional head wrap). The presentation had been moved up since there was an emergency that required her to fly back to North Carolina right away.

She gave one of the more interesting presentations, but was somewhat quiet and subdued, I felt. She then excused herself and left swiftly instead of taking any questions. The session chair explained that she would not have time for questions since she had to rush to the airport. Only later did I glean a hint about the nature of the emergency: three friends of hers had just been murdered. On Thursday I would see the headlines in the newspaper about the slayings of three Muslims in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. So terrible--how do I even begin to grasp what this kind of loss must feel like?

It was thoughtful of her to share as much as she did with us before her flight. I caught her on the way out and congratulated her for a great presentation, not yet knowing that there had been a tragedy. I had missed the announcement about the reasons for the change in schedule since I had been chatting out in the lobby. Had I known, I might not have wanted to bother her at all.

Her composure and kindness to the audience while facing such terrible news about her friends was very professional, but what pain she must have been facing! I am surprised at how calm and courageous she had been. Even if the victims of the murder had not been friends, just to have fellow Muslims from one's town be murdered would have been a terribly troubling burden to face. This might be a good time for all of us to reach out in kindness to our Muslim friends as they face a trying time. They may face other cases of hatred and misunderstanding. May we help prevent such hatred and violence, and be a comfort and help to those who are at risk in our violent world. 

We Latter-day Saints often recall the stories of past discrimination and persecution, but what our ancestors  suffered many decades ago is minor compared to the pains of many in the world today. There are Muslims wishing to stand for peace who are slain by extremists. There are whole communities of Christians being driven out of their nations. There are minority religions and ethnic groups in many lands that are violently persecuted. May we not forget these brothers and sisters in their pain.

When it becomes our turn to face the wrath of bigots and madmen, may we remain calm and courageous, not seeking vengeance and not forgetting the need for charity even when there is cause for anger.

2 comments:

bearyb said...

We recently held an interfaith devotional at one of our stake centers on the topic of "Religious Liberty and Freedom." It was co-sponsored by The Catholic Diocese of Little Rock, The United Methodists of Arkansas, The Islamic Center of Arkansas, The Family Council and Little Rock Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Each organization was represented by a leader who took time at the podium to describe their involvement in and support for the subject at hand.

Afterward there were refreshments and opportunites to mingle with everyone more casually. It was well attended by adherents to all those organizations, and was a nice start to what I hope will continue to grow and become a way for us to gather upon those points that unite us as concerned citizens. We cannot begin to understand or care much about our neighbors of other faiths and beliefs if we never even meet with them! (This is also one reason why I think our sending missionaries throughout the world is so vital. Invariably they return with a love for a people they never would have even known otherwise.)

I am grateful to have been there and anticipate more such opportunites.

Jeff Lindsay said...

Wow, what a great event! There is so much we can learn and need to learn by talking with those of other faiths, including Muslims. Congratulations to the Little Rock Stake!