so, i had a little to say this morning about peace and how we try to create a world of peace in the midst of the violence that we find everywhere. and, for me, the only thing i can come up with, as i said earlier, is that i can only make a difference in my life. i cannot make anyone else make the decision to choose peace, acceptance, and love. what i can do, though, is be an example of that to the people i meet. i can educate. and i can provide opportunities for people to meet each other. i truly believe that we are afraid of, we condemn, we accuse, we are willing to fight against those we do not know. as long as we have an “us” and a “them”, we will not have peace. so, what can i do? i can help to break down barriers and walls. i can create environments where people of different races, cultures, countries, socio-economic statuses, religions, sexualities, etc. can come together and meet each other simply as people. and then, when we strip away the prejudices and pre-judgements, we can see the human being standing in front of us as a fellow human being, not an enemy or an unknown scary thing. when we meet each other, then we realize that we have more similarities than not, and that we are connected as humans. when we are willing to be with each other, we will learn that we are more alike one another than we imagined.
it was a fabulous coincidence that tonight i had planned for my youth group to host a café evening for some refugee teenagers from afghanistan. after everything that has been occuring in the boston area, i thought it was perfect timing that i had a chance to push my teenagers to come face to face with about 20-30 teenage boys from afghanistan who have fled to sweden because they have nothing left, or because they were in danger, in their home land. these guys not only left their home country, they left it alone. they are in sweden without any family. just themselves. and we were gonna show them a good time tonight.
i know that some of my teenagers have been a little nervous about meeting with these guys, if only because not all of them speak swedish, but also because they are are unknown guys from an unknown culture. and even though we have met with them before, it was still something a little frightening, for everyone involved. understandable.
but, what happened was not frightening at all… it was amazing. after spending the first 20-30 minutes a little bit separated from each other, all the kids began to warm up to each other. someone pulled out their ipad and began to search for music, and after a few minutes, we moved tables, and everyone was up and dancing. so crazy. so much fun. i danced away like crazy as well. we all did. and we laughed. we talked. we met each other simply as people.
as i was telling the guys goodbye, one of them asked if they could call me and invite us to the next muslim celebration they have. they wanted to repay our kindness. i was blown away. afterwards, my kids talked about how much fun it was. and my heart was full.