Bookcase Poetry


(c) Arike van de Water 2007-2009

In Answer

20 April 2008

Beloved, yesterday my group went to a Mosque and there was a man in a turban and a robe in front of some tapestry on a tapestry behind a table and a Qe'ran and between plastic flowers, just like on Al Jazeera only in real life and he said

I cannot take responsibility for all the Muslims in the world only the Islam itself and what I believe in, not those people out there doing crimes.

I cannot answer for what they said, for they misunderstand what the Qe'ran says so they do wrong things.

I cannot answer for them even when people expect me to answer for them I can only tell them what's in the Qe'ran.

And I thought

I understand your problem, I feel the same only the people are Christians and the book is the Bible.

I cannot answer for them when people expect me to answer for them I can only tell them what God said.

Let's be friends.

Let's be friends.

He said as well because he believed we had common ground and my group was there to confirm that and build this bridge between our religion and his group and to be in all honesty and openness ourselves Muslims and Christians together in one room, smiling.

With a smile my group was welcomed and we ate lunch together and truly this was a bridge because we could travel across it.

This man looking like he was from Al Jazeera came from Pleasanton. Beloved, it was more encouraging than I could tell you I smiled as we built the bridge and had lunch together, naan and rice and chicken, do you know that Muslims and Jews both have kosher food?

Kosher food is part of the common ground between them that they talked about in New York, the Al Jazeera-like man said. I cannot answer for others but I can try to reach out and make friends like the Qe'ran and the Bible say whether it is hospitality or neighbour-love. He walked in New York with other Al Jazeera-like men and Jewish leaders after a bridge-build meeting and people took pictures of them because they said they had never seen a group of Jews and Muslims walk together like that before.

We all smiled, Christians and Muslims together and then we ate lunch and travelled over the bridge and met in hospitality and neighbour-love. Beloved, this is what believers are like when they are not shoved in the face with "terrorist" and "judgmental" and "abortion" and "politics" because those things don't matter much at all in the grand scale of things except when they come up and then everyone hopes all of us can face them with hospitality or honour or love or respect as the situation demands. But Muslims and Christians don't think much about abortion at all except when it concerns their daughter or politics and then their answers are very different because one says the baby goes first and the other says the mother. But perhaps it is not so much a matter of choice or life or death as it is one of hospitality or neighbour-love and we should have a litte more patience in politics.

Beloved, I cannot answer "judgmental" like he cannot answer "terrorist" because we are not. We like neighbour-love and hospitality and leaving room for a multiplicity of voices like Derrida said.

Pro-life and pro-choice are not multiple but binary so that our voices are silenced and I cannot say that teenage mothers are not good but neither are dead foetusses of 24 weeks old because they are already babies and perhaps there is another solution?

Beloved, pro-darwin and pro-creation are not a multiplicity of voices either because one is a scientific theory that is already 150 years old and the other means having sex and babies and I think it is typically American to make something binary like that and that this debate shouldn't be able to exist anyway, except that it does in America.

Pro-America and pro-Middle East is not a choice either if you like neither country but the people in those countries are way nice like you from America and this Al Jazeera-like man from Afghanistan and neither of you like the war but you can't escape it except by isolating yourself from it, which no one can really, and except by building bridges.

But I cannot say that because it is not politics. Politics is pro-life and pro-choice and pro-Darwin and pro-creation and pro-America and pro-Middle East is politics and it gives me a headache and it gives him a headache and it gives Christians a headache and it gives Muslims a headache. And it gives you sadness.

So we were all very glad to get rid of the headaches for one day and to meet each other as people of different faiths and get to know each other and not what each of us would say to a journalist, even though the man looked like he came from an Al Jazeera video clip he was really very nice and made my group and his group all smile.

We built a bridge based on who we were not what we thought about what was in the news and it was good and made us all smile.

Beloved, may I get to know you away from the news and show you what the world is like away from the news? Issues are important issues, yes, but not worth your life, so love and be hospitable instead of angry and hopeless. That way you might have a smile instead of a headache and maybe we could all get together, you, me and the Al Jazeera-like man.

Because I cannot answer "judgmental", and he cannot answer "terrorist" and you cannot answer for things done in your name even though they are, because of the multiplicity of voices that Derrida talked about, you remember, when he said each word has ghosts in it each time they are repeated because everybody speaks them in a different way and each speaks different ways and different secrets. You are other than the voice that has the same name as you, and you have common ground with people with a different name. And perhaps if we've built a bridge we can come visit and help each other, how about that? Give politics a headache and have lunch together and smile, because though we have different answers to life we like the multiplicity of voices because that way we can have a conversation, instead of yelling to ourselves.