Wednesday, March 19, 2008

A Letter to Terrorists

Ooh . . . so, I found Naomi Shihab Nye's letter "To Any Would-Be Terrorists." READ IT.

Here's a portion of her powerful conclusion:
We will all die soon enough. Why not take the short time we have on this delicate planet and figure out some really interesting things we might do together? I promise you, God would be happier.

I beg you, as your distant Arab cousin, as your American neighbor, listen to me. Our hearts are broken, as yours may also feel broken in some ways we can't understand, unless you tell us in words. Killing people won't tell us. We can't read that message. Find another way to live. Don't expect others to be like you. Read Rumi. Read Arabic poetry. Poetry humanizes us in a way that news, or even religion, has a harder time doing. A great Arab scholar, Dr. Salma Jayyusi, said, "If we read one another, we won't kill one another." Read American poetry. Plant mint. Find a friend who is so different from you, you can't believe how much you have in common. Love them. Let them love you. Surprise people in gentle ways, as friends do. The rest of us will try harder too. Make our family proud.
And here are some more of her comments on creativity vs. violence. They may not all make sense out of context, so like I said before, read the original!
We believe in the power of the word and we keep using it, even when it seems no one large enough is listening.

And it will be peace, not violence, that fixes things.

When people asked [my 106-year-old Palestinian grandmother] how she felt about the peace talks that were happening right before she died, she puffed up like a proud little bird and said, in Arabic, "I never lost my peace inside."

A Jewish professor tracked me down a few years ago in Jerusalem to tell me [that my grandmother] changed his life after he went to her village to do an oral history project on Arabs. "Don't think she only mattered to you!" he said. "She gave me a whole different reality to imagine."

We would like to stop the terrifying wheel of violence, just stop it, right on the road, and find something more creative to do to fix these huge problems we have. Violence is not creative, it is stupid and scary and many of us hate all those terrible movies and TV shows made in our own country that try to pretend otherwise.

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