Imagine my surprise to come into work this morning and discover parking and driving restrictions near the building, tight security, police everywhere, and signs in English and Arabic. Not your every day event, even at YLS. The moot court room was transformed into a little hospitality area with trucked in comfortable chairs, little tables with gorgeous orchids, a display of little snack and beverage items, and a fancy metal floor stand holding fresh fruit.
It seems we were playing host to part of the Loving God and Neighbor in Word and Deed (aka “Common Word”) conference, the first of several international gatherings of Muslim-Christian leaders seeking to find common ground between their faiths and redefine Christian-Muslim relations in the 21st century. What a novel idea, to find common ground instead of fighting wars.
I don’t know all that much about Islam but I do know that what we see on the news and read about in our media isn’t a complete and true picture of the faith as outlined in the Koran. It cuts both ways: there are millions of Christians in the world, sharing the common book of the Bible, but it’s hard to tell that we practice the same faith much of the time. The extremists get the press and make enemies – and can take a society in a repressive direction.
Can we say, fundamental right-wing conservative Republicans? I thought so. See? it’s not necessarily only Islamic extremists that are a problem.
Tomorrow I’m bringing my camera along with my ID card and see if I can capture something around YLS. Probably not the Jordanian prince, but maybe the signs, at least. The big things start with small steps. Maybe the conference will be part of starting a dialogue between cultures.