I learned many things when I started working on a farm when I was in 6th grade. One of them was that it is a lot less work to keep the bucket of nails away from the edge of a table than to pick up all the nails once the bucket hits the ground. Once there, they can trip us up and pierce our shoes. But what do you do when someone comes in the shop and throws them to the ground?
That is essentially what is happening to many minority communities, including the Muslim community. Hate groups send out dehumanizing messages about the Muslim community. People don’t know a Muslim and know very little about Islam and they hear the same messaging from news sources, social media, pastors, friends, and social media. So they get fearful. Fear begins to take hold, even when what we are fearing isn’t real.
In the last 8 years or so, some of the churches in Snohomish brought in speakers from recognized hate groups to spread misinformation and fear about Muslims. So, when a group of Muslims bought land near Snohomish the hate and fear was waiting to meet them.
In the fall of 2019 we held a public event in Snohomish, WA to give people a chance to meet Muslims and to ask the challenging questions they may have been afraid to ask. Several churches in Snohomish and other community groups offered to create space for this event. We encourage you to watch the event and think through how you would respond to these questions.
In this 40 minute video, you will see an Episcopal Priest moderating a conversation between those gathered at this public event and Aneelah Afzali and Pastor Terry Kyllo.
Paths to Understanding continues this work of engaging people’s fears, and offering meaningful responses to people’s questions. Over the next year, we will be creating a set of courses on the Paths Network to teach people how to respond to their friends, family and coworkers. The final course will be for those who want to learn from Terry, Aneelah and some of their national partners about how to speak on these topics to different audiences with researched methods. We are just beginning to create these courses and look forward to engaging with you on the Paths Network.
The bucket of fear has already been thrown to the ground. We need many hands to pick them up so that fear and hatred don’t trip us up on the path to our common, hopeful future.
You can begin this journey by joining our next course: The Practice of Authentic Allyship that will begin soon. We invite you to join us.