Posted on Sun Bulletin

We can change for the better, a comment I got printed by Press & Sun Bulletin, Binghamton, NY

Have you ever got a song stuck in your head? Terrorists have “concepts” stuck in their heads and defend them to death.

Fortunately we have a window of opportunity for getting unstuck built into nature. Change.

Change happens. We can’t stop it. We can though, harness change and use it to benefit humanity, like harnessing electricity to turn on the light.

Changing for the better requires courage. Think of Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King Jr., Gandhi, Harriet Tubman. They were extremists. We just call them revolutionaries.

They had in common the aplomb to put themselves out-there in the face of danger and death. They stood for new positions that represented something greater than themselves. Equality, freedom, and progress.

Great thinkers and doers ally with what I call spirituality, a trust in good. They show forgiveness and integrity when attacked by hate and brutality. They show meaning in life when demeaned.

After 9/11, the word terrorist was nailed to the word Islam. It’s since been hammered into our heads by the media and by horrifying events. The words seem to be one and the same but this is a concept that can change.

Five years ago in Delaware County, New York, where I live, a Muslim community, the Osmanli Dergahi Sufi Center, became the target of suspicion and animosity. The Muslims were accused of illegal behavior in regard to two plots in a small cemetery on their property. It got ugly.

The Muslims verified the plots legitimacy but their word was not enough.

The Town leadership told the Muslims to disinter the bodies. Legal counsel was brought in to show that the Muslims had indeed followed the law. Moreover, non-Muslims mobilized to stand with members of the Sufi community on the side of justice. Today, the cemetery stands in peace.

The Muslims are not standing still. They’ve become involved in local municipalities and Villages, thereby improving the concept of Islam.

The Town of Sidney Supervisor, Eugene Pigford, told me recently, “A Muslim, Hans Hass, is on the Planning Board and offers useful input.”

At the newly opened Tulip & Rose Café, Manager and follower of Islam, Hasan Siddiqi, told me, “We need to put faces of kindness and integrity into the public.”

The effort is attracting the willingness to trust, not so much in human beings, as in the ability to get along, to support and respect one another. A concept worth fighting for.

I’ve also visited the Muslim community and listened to its key representative, Sheykh Lokman give a sermon. He said, “The only jihad we have is against our own egos, against hate and self-righteousness.”

The Sheykh’s discourse touched on respect for the old traditions that have proven sound in Islam. “Do not take away the power of speech. Support peace and justice,” he said.

The natural force of change is universal, unbiased. As a Christian, I too can support the concepts of self-improvement, peace, and justice.


Bio: Cheryl Petersen is a freelance writer for The Daily Star, Oneonta, NY; Catskill Mountain News, Arkville, NY; The Delaware County Times, Delhi, NY; and Kaatksill Life Magazine, Delhi, NY. Her book is, 21st Century Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: A modern version of Mary Baker Eddy’s Science and Health.


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