I didn’t really want to approach this subject.
I may not be the best qualified to weigh in on it.
Then my daughter asked me, “Daddy, why can’t those people build a church in New York?”
And now, just like she got me to coach soccer when I didn’t know a mid-fielder from a goalie, my daughter has gotten me involved.
“Um, well, some people have a problem with the people who want to build the church because, um, well, because of what they believe.”
“Well, because they…there were these towers…and some…what’s on Nickelodeon?”
(I told you I wasn’t the best qualified for this)
Thankfully iCarly diverted her attention. And while iCarly usually diverts my attention (especially when my wife is talking to me), this time, my thoughts could not be preoccupied.
I have watched all the news reports from Anderson Cooper, Keith Olbermann, and Bill O’Reilly. I have listened to Mayor Bloomberg and President Obama weigh in. I have read everything from Sam Harris to micro-bloggers’ opinion articles. And they have all left me with the same feeling of bewilderment and stumbling I had trying to answer my daughter.
So I try to come to some sort of conclusion on the mosque. To, at the very least, be able to give my daughter a coherent answer the next time she asks (god willing she doesn’t ask).
My brain tells me that Mayor Bloomberg and President Obama and everyone outside of the GOP will take the stance of “tolerance” (don’t want to lose those minority votes). My brain tells me, despite the month long obsession with the World Cup; this is indeed still America, land of the free, home of the brave. It tells me, though a mosque next to Ground Zero may not be in good taste, neither is Rush Limbaugh and yet he is allowed to infect our airways. Those who are seeking to put up a mosque have as much right for their building permit as anyone else. My brain (or maybe its CNN) tells me that the terrorists win if we do not allow this. It tells me their religion, subtracting the fringe believers, at its core, is no more dangerous than Christianity and no one seems to mind when a church is near an abortion clinic. My brain tells me that Teddy Roosevelt said, “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer”. My brain tells me that we, as a society, are on the verge of setting a dangerous precedent, the likes we have not seen since the 1960’s, if we do not allow this to happen.
My heart tells me, Islam and its devotees, murdered 3,000 people nine years ago and they have a lot of nerve trying to build one of their terrorist cells at the scene of their crime. My heart tells me we need to listen to Sarah Palin’s impassioned, if not idiotic, tweets to the Islamic community (it’s my heart, no one ever said it was rational). My heart tells me we need to ignore our humanity and do everything we can to block those terrorists from building their hate temple. My heart pumps me full of rage at anyone who allows themselves to be indoctrinated by invisible omnipotent entities inhabiting the sky. My heart screams buying a Ford, going out to eat, or letting those bastards build their mosque is one way to defeat the terrorists but a well placed bomb in the Middle East is a (better) way too.
My heart implores me to stop listening to my brain. My brain reminds me of the trouble my heart has gotten me in to. My heart calls my brain a pussy. My brain calls my heart an impetuous fool. And on and on it went the tug of war between my emotions and my thoughts.
If I was going to figure this out, I was going to need to reign in my battling organs.
I initiated peace between the two sides and we all talked it out.
Depending on which side of the debate you are on, you will be either listening to your brain or running with your heart (or if you’re Sarah Palin, you’re just looking for another reason to get on TV so you ignore either one). Both have valid points. Both, it could be argued, have the best answer.
But, as my kids get older, I am trying to teach them about the merits of listening to both their brains and their hearts. We can be impulsive and reckless by listening to only our hearts. We may get too hung up on rules and laws and not see what is best by obeying just our brains. I want my kids to balance their decision making between what they feel versus what they know. Because if they don’t, they are going to regret more decisions than they would like. I don’t think that I have the answer to this debate but all I can hope for is, the people in charge of ultimately making the final decision on the mosque do not listen to just their brain or just their heart either but decide to hear out both.