A Missed Opportunity?

I was quite hesitant about posting this, especially on a day like today; but as I have mentioned before I tend to be fairly emotionally inert and I am not often afraid to stand up when I think its important. And with recent events I can’t help but think that this is important.

There have been three events that have hit the news from America this week; the anniversary of 9/11; the proposed Qu’ran burning by Pastor Terry Jones and the building of a mosque near to the 9/11 site. Of the three, the second, the Qu’ran burning, is the issue I do not intend to look at too much. In essence this is a minor issue blown out of proportion for some unknown reason. Now I don’t intend to upset devout muslims by this statement but while the burning of any book is, in itself, a sad state of affairs it can’t be avoided that this is an event that would have passed without too much mention if it wasn’t for the date and the media. In addition the people most likely to suffer for this is the thousands of Americans (and possible other english speaking people) working or visiting devout muslim lands. I hope that if this man does continue with his threat, the Islamic states and muslims everywhere realise that this is an empty and pointless gesture.

Onto what I hope is something many can relate to and understand. There has been some argument over the proposed building of a mosque near the 9/11 site. Obama has had to step in to lend his support to the building in the face of a possible growing body of public opinion of opposition to the plan. As an atheist and an unsentimental type of person, the building or not of this mosque really has little impact on me. I feel that the US is missing a golden opportunity to really show the world the cultural and spiritual maturity and opportunity of the country.

If there is a need for a building for religious purposes near to the 9/11 site, should it not be a multi-religion structure? Should not religious people from all over the world have the chance to come together to reflect on a tragedy that has cost the world far more than the nearly 3000 killed and over 6000 wounded on 9/11? Isn’t this a golden chance to develop a site open to all religions to develop into a centre of atonement, bridging and building links between religious peoples, helping them to overcome the levels of confusion, animosity, antipathy and ignorance about each other?

As an atheist I find little use for religion outside of the opportunity to use its records and presence to track the development of human society. Yet if we are going to have religions in the world, and if they are going to have the level of influence they currently have, then something like the site of 9/11 is a golden opportunity for religion to have a far more impacting global effect on human society and our understanding of each other.

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