The controversy surrounding the Islamic center/mosque to be built six blocks from Ground Zero is both fascinating and disturbing. Reduced to simplest terms, the debate might be framed as a highly-charged confrontation between those who emphasize constitutional rights of Muslims and those who emphasize respect for the memory of the victims. But whatever the proper framing of the debate, many on both sides of the issue seem to desire to do what they think is right.
As a Holocaust educator, I’m naturally sensitive to victim’s rights and the proper stewardship of their memory, not to mention the very real genocidal threat lodged against the Jewish people by the Islamic jihadist juggernaut. So my very first reaction is to side with those who oppose the mosque. And yet, a couple of sayings I recently came across keep coming to mind, preventing me from feeling too confident about my own thoughts on the subject:
“A wise man hears one word and understands two.”
“If all pull in one direction, the world would keel over.”
Each side seems to hear the word “mosque” and pull in its own direction. Therefore, it occurs to me that the missing ingredient in this high-powered, fast-lane discussion may be: TIME.
“Take time to deliberate; but when the time for action arrives, stop thinking and go in.” (Napoleon Bonaparte)
It seems to me that it’s not yet time to “go in” and begin construction. The “truth” of the matter has not yet been discovered; too many questions, too many doubts still exist, for example, about the intentions of the imam and his backers.
“All truths are easy to understand once they are discovered; the point is to discover them.” (Galileo)
To discover truth often takes time.
“I’d say I’m troubled by it, but I don’t know enough to say that it ought to be prohibited,” [Senator Joe] Lieberman said on “Imus in the Morning” on the Fox Business Network. “But frankly I’ve heard enough about it and read enough about it that I wish somebody in New York would just put the brakes on for a while and take a look at this.”
We don’t like dealing with doubt and many people like to think they know with too much certainty.
“If we begin with certainties, we shall end in doubts; but if we begin with doubts, and are patient in them, we shall end in certainties.” (Francis Bacon)
Mick Jagger and the Stones aside, one thing seems clear: that time is on everyone’s side in the case of the Ground Zero mosque.