Praying for peace, reflections of the EU response to worldwide crisis

Category:  Opinions
Thursday, December 3rd, 2015 at 6:35 AM
Praying for peace, reflections of the EU response to worldwide crisis  by The Spectator

In such a short time after the appalling Charlie Hebdo and Porte de Vincennes attacks, France, along with multiple other countries, were subjected to horrific violence nearly three weeks ago. This was while Beirut suffered the loss of 47 people during an ISIS suicide bombing, and at least 18 were killed during the suicide mission of a Shi’ite fighter, ending with a total of 41 wounded at a Baghdad funeral. Meanwhile, both Japan and Mexico experienced earthquakes. Truly, Nov. 13, 2015 was a day where the world was falling apart at all corners.

Americans flocked to their television sets as the heavily publicized unrest in Paris began to materialize. Countless parents, lovers, bandmates, and strangers lost their lives in a senseless act of violence. America lost our own Nohemi Gonzalez, a 23-year-old student of industrial design at California State, along with 128 of our French brothers and sisters.

The ringleader and other various perpetrators involved in the terror attacks that occurred in Paris on Friday Nov. 13 still remain largely undetected by Parisian police. But while piecing together the trail leading to the assailants, one thing is certain: Edinboro University wanted to show their respect and solidarity with the French, as well as the other nations that have remained strong despite being rocked by heinous crimes. That is why students, faculty and members of the local community joined together on Thursday, Nov. 19 to hold a vigil for the victims of global tragedy.

After the attacks, readers may be familiar with the iconic world buildings and monuments that casted blue, white and red lights on their structures to mourn alongside France. From Christ the Redeemer in Brazil, to the Sydney Opera House in Australia, the world united through light in some dark and trying times. Just so, Edinboro students felt they should implement their own service of remembrance, with their own enduring light.

Huddled behind the Frank G. Pogue University Center, flickers of candlewicks began to ignite, one by one, despite the heavy winds threatening to blow the candles out. Cloaked by the inky-black sky, the amber glow of the few candles that survived the harsh winds kept the night from enveloping all in attendance in darkness.

Organized by Nicole Nissley, an Edinboro University student, a group of 30 classmates gathered, who were all perfect strangers united under the ties of reflecting on world peace. Edinboro professors Dr. Dave Fulford and Dr. Baher Ghosheh led the group in prayer and peaceful reflection on past events.

“Obviously as the event said, we’re here to pray for Paris,” Nissley began, “but we’re also here to pray for the world.”

Fulford led the group in an opening prayer, stating, “God, you made us in your own image, and redeemed us through our lord Jesus Christ your son. Look with compassion on the whole human family; take away the arrogance and hatred that is affecting our hearts, and break down the walls that separate us. Unite us in bonds of love, and help us to work through the struggle so we can accomplish your purposes on earth. In good time, let all nations and all races serve you in harmony.”

After a brief pause, Fulford continued, “we’re gathered here tonight to pray for peace, both formally and informally. If we look at what happened in Paris, there aren’t the right words sometimes to properly dictate how that makes us feel. We know that the people of Paris have been responding in all sorts of ways, and in many ways we’ve seen their effort to draw together.”

“Terrorists work by making us afraid, and making us attempt to change what we do,” Fulford reflected. “Terrorists work,” he said once more with conviction, “by trying to incite hatred in us.”

“The people of Paris have stood up to that in many ways. I was watching the news before I came over tonight and there was a man who had a scarf around his face and it read ‘I’m a Muslim, hug me, I’m not afraid of you.’ He had people come up and hug him,” Fulford stated, reflecting on the acts of kindness that members of the Muslim community have tried to show in an era of heightened “Islamophobia.”

“When we pray to God, we’re not just asking for the souls of those who are evil to be at rest, we do not pray just for the healing for those who have lost people, we must pray in a larger way, for all of human kind, and all of their suffering. Whether we say this formally in a religious way or informally in a secular way, everyone should be taking a few minutes every day to pray for peace around the world,” Fulford concluded.

Ghosheh then made a few remarks, stating, “as we gather here tonight, out thoughts and prayers must be with the people of the world who are continually suffering from these attacks.”

“It is well documented that these terrorists of ISIS are trying to divide us — we are all, in some way, victims of this pervasive evil. The immediate victims — the people of France, Angkor (Cambodia), Beirut and most notably in Syria are persecuted Muslims themselves. All of these countries have large majorities that are allied against this spreading of hatred by this ideology that tries to divide us and change our way of life. The actual Muslim way of life is about brotherhood, love, and tolerance and that won’t be changed by the ignorance of the few radicals.”

Fulford then added it is inhumane to deny the refugees of Syria and other conflicted countries the right to seek asylum in America. “Their plight is the plight of all man, they are our brothers and sisters, and they need us to look out for them now more than ever.”

The candles that had endured, the wind now dripped with wax and burned with even more conviction than previously. And in a way, the students who attended the vigil, whether Atheist or Christian, Muslim or Jewish, all found themselves whispering “Amen,” sharing the same sentiment of tolerance, thus carrying the momentary inner peace out into a tumultuous world.

Before the Paris attacks, 64 percent of the French public were against Syrian intervention, but now this sentiment has changed. Now, the political parties scramble to politicize this tragedy before upcoming elections. We must remember however that ISIS is penetrating the psyche of all. We are allowing them to make us fearful, and it is inciting home grown terrorism.

That is the real problem. “Othering” or creating an “us” and “them” narrative is a prejudiced discourse that could only push tensions further to a steep edge. 

Our Viewpoint is voted on and discussed by the staff of The Spectator.

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