Peacemaker Fridays: July 22, 2016

One man’s DNA shows our worldwide connections; Meet a Muslim sparks conversation and offers perspective; and local Mosque congregants wage peace by feasting with an outspoken opponent.

Here are the week’s best stories of people reaching across enemy lines, loving the other, and waging peace…

Celebrating our diversity by seeing our internal connections 

With violence continuing to dominate the news, the world feels more fragmented than ever. But we are more connected than we realize, and in the most intimate place possible—our DNA. Sometimes, we are reminded of this in unlikeliest of places—in an advertisement, for example. We are not out to endorse this company or its particular services, but we love this reminder that we are so much more than where we live, where we were born, who we identify with, or what culture we claim. Watch—preferably with a box of tissues within reach.  

Meet a Muslim: sparking conversation through film

“I’m a foodie!”

“I’m a pediatrician!”

“I listen to Kelly Clarkson!”

“I’m a musician, a poet, and I’m Muslim! Surprise!”

After a heated dinner party argument with a guest who voiced suspicion of Muslims, filmmaker Tara Miele decided to find a better way to engage with those who don’t share her perspective. “Everybody was screaming at this poor woman at the table… but we calmed down, and it turned out she had never met a Muslim,” said Miele. The result of that encounter was a short, powerful film, released just days before the Orlando attack last month. “Filmmaking is my skill set and how I communicate… [so] we reached out to people we knew who could be in the film, and it grew from there. This had been a one way conversation with Donald Trump, with people feeling upset, and some feeling blind hatred and vitriol. I wanted to broaden that conversation.” Read more…


Breaking the fast and breaking stereotypes at Ramadan 

Matthew Jansen made headlines for his explosive voicemail rant to a Pennsylvania pastor who posted a sign wishing Ramadan blessings on his Muslim neighbors. Instead of retaliating, a local mosque stepped bravely across enemy lines and asked Jansen to join them in a Friday prayer service and Ramadan fast-breaking feast. Jansen accepted and had an evening of what he described as “healthy give-and-take” discussion. Members of the mosque shared their perspectives and Jansen listened. Jansen asked questions and voiced concerns, while mosque members listened and offered their answers. At the end of the evening, all felt the event was positive and helpful. Although Jansen said he could not “feel as comfortable about the Muslim faith universally,” he was impressed with his local mosque and praised his hosts. “It was neat to do this, and I’m still enjoying myself,” Jansen said. Mosque congregant, Dr. Mubashir Mumtaz agreed, “I think this is a huge step in the right direction… a path to friendship…” We certainly hope so.  Read more… 


Do you have a story to share? We would love to hear how you and your community are waging peace right where you are. And stay tuned for more hope-filled peacemaker stories next Friday!