Sometimes silence is as much of a weapon as a sword. Judging by the response of national news networks and social media ~ the lousy weather on the East Coast is more startling than the beheading of 21 orange-clad Koptic Christians by twenty-one black-clad ISIS terrorists with matching knives on a beautiful beach in Libya. The cinematography was flawless. The orange-and-black theme was brilliant. And the choice of a beach rather than a prison was no coincidence. What, after all, are our associations with the beach: fun, sun, nature, picnics, etc. And now the staging has changed our associations to 21 severed heads bobbing up and down on the beach in a tide red with the blood.
We all now know what it feels like to be paralyzed by evil. We don’t know what to do about it and so we turn to such things as a roast beef sandwich on a wintry day for comfort. We turn to a myriad of ways to deny and ignore such atrocities, of which there have recently been many. At least it didn’t happen here (wherever your “here” happens to be ~ excluding, of course, at the moment, North Carolina). And at least a shootout in Paris at a kosher deli or a cartoon office is something to which we can relate because a fierce, tactical police and military response could be staged and executed. And at least the killer of three young Muslims in North Carolina is now handcuffed and also wearing an orange jumpsuit. But we don’t know what to do with 21 severed Christian heads lying on a beach that we cannot name or recognize.
My fear is not ISIS physically coming to my part of Long Island or your community in who-knows-where. They don’t need to. They are already here. In some respects, ISIS and other terrorists knows us better than we know ourselves ~ and so they do not need to come or go anywhere in order to conquer us, or at least a part of us. ISIS knows how to produce state-of-the-art videos of mass murder; or the single victim murders of people being burned alive in a cage that are filmed from multiple camera angles ~ and they apparently know how to produce feelings of numbness and impotence in many of us as well. But not all of us…
And so, on Wednesday, February 25th at 7:00 in the evening, there will be an Interfaith Gathering of Empathy and Solidarity at the Congregational Church of Patchogue (Long Island), 95 East Main Street, in response to the beheading of 21 Egyptian Christians by 21 ISIS terrorists; the attacks on a kosher deli and the offices of Charlie Hebdo in Paris; the killing of a Muslim pilot burned alive in a cage; the recent (still under investigation) possible hate crime killing of three Muslim youth in North Carolina; acts of terror in Copenhagen; and other deplorable events that cry out for a spiritual response amid the military, police and other political responses. This service does not endorse one religion over another; and is inclusive of non-faith communities and traditions as well. We have been presented with a great opportunity to transform tragedy into solidarity. A spiritual response by religious and secular people and groups to affirm our common good will be greatly appreciated.