Reconciling with the Muslim world

Published 10:53 am Wednesday, May 14, 2008

“It makes a great difference,” wrote Saint Augustine, “by which causes and under what authorities men undertake the wars that must be waged.”

Roughly 1,600 years later, in March 2003, Cardinal Pio Laghi tried to persuade President Bush not to act on his plan to invade Iraq. The Cardinal, a special envoy of the Vatican, warned of civilian casualties and damage to relations between Christians and Muslims; President Bush was unmoved. “The war,” he said, “will make things better.”

Finally, after checking Benazir Bhutto’s book three consecutive times I completed the book. Of course what she argued probably led to her assassination.

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In the closing pages she talked about young Muslims all over the world who “want to start asking — and dreaming and demanding opportunity and change. Access to information ended autocracy in Eastern and Central Europe. It can open societies in the Muslim world as well.”

Bhutto called for “Reconciliation Corps.” Modeled on the Peace Corps, it would be made up of Muslims from Western societies who have been economically, socially, and politically integrated into the life of their host countries while maintaining their Islamic character, culture, and religion. These Muslim youth could build bridges with their countries of origin.

There was a mention of Barack Obama possibly having some influence in this area due to his father’s being Muslim. I think he would be more open to reconciliation as opposed to the merciless thinking of our current administration.

Politics. There was a section in the Sunday Tribune comparing how legislators viewed their thoughts on subjects as compared to their constituents. They were not exactly in sync. It’s my understanding the state legislative session will close down on Monday, that is if everything is approved and passes and gets signed by Gov. Pawlenty, who by the way, is in the lead to be McCain’s first choice as his VP.

The reasons include he has been twice elected in a Democratic-leaning state, he is liked by both conservatives and moderates, and he gets “rave reviews for his political instincts.” However, Minnesota, I think, is still a Democratic-leaning state and it will more than lean in the next election after eight years of destruction at the national level and some at the state level.

Anyway, it’s still a long way to the next election. I feel sorry for those running for higher office with a year and a half of campaigning. How painful. It was nice to read that Obama stayed home on Mother’s Day.

And what a Mother’s Day it was! I had looked at my pocket calendar and I thought it indicated that Mother’s Day was on Monday. Why Monday I thought. I had picked up Mother’s Day cards Saturday. I even purchase a small gift, something unusual for the nature of a thrifty Bohemian. We were sitting in church Sunday morning when the minister said “Happy Mother’s Day to all you mothers out there. I rechecked my pocket calendar when we got home and sure enough Mother’s Day was indeed on Sunday.

All I had to lean on was the Diamond Sutra mentioned in “Wherever You Go There You Are” that talks of “paying close attention to nothing.” It’s a Zen thing. Something I tend to lean on. It is much more satisfying to think in that context than to say: “I don’t remember” or “I forgot.”

Or as Milan Kundera said: “We leave childhood without knowing what youth is, we marry without knowing what it is to be married, and even when we enter old age, we don’t know what it is we’re headed for: the old are innocent children of their old age. In that sense man’s world is the planet of inexperience.”

He doesn’t say this applies to women though. I don’t think it does. They know.

I saw my first family of Canadian Honker “younglings” walking close to their parents eating grass by the Mill Pond with four other couples watching from a short a distance away making me wonder which one was the mother of the couple, if they were a couple, and what was she thinking. It’s still impossible to determine which was the female and which was the male.

I made my quiet trek around the Mill Pond and then stopped by the Hispanic event taking place in the parking lot next to the library. People of all ages celebrating life. A part of me wanted to snap a few pictures — say hi. I didn’t. I’m not sure why.