Saturday, March 22, 2014

Love, Not Hate: Last Scene

Last one.  This one is based on a true story that happened in Egypt.  You can find pictures of it online.  People ARE basically good. We share the same loves, desires, and hope for the future.
Love, Not Hate

Hello.  I’m Peter Commons.  I was raised in the 90s, but I grew up on September 11, 2001.  I lived in Brooklyn and worked in New York at the World Trade Center.  Luckily I was on the 7th floor when the first plane hit.  At first we didn’t even evacuate.  We thought it was just some sort of freak accident, but it was still a work day.  Still things had to get done.  But when the second plane hit, well, we knew we had to go.  My boss, John, he stayed behind, working in the stairwell, moving up and down the floors, helping people evacuate.  I wanted to.  I really did, but I was scared.  I didn’t want to stay and help.

I mean, I was a young man, and life was good, and I just wasn’t ready to take a chance.  I did help John for about 2o minutes, but I could feel the building shaking, and I saw those brave firemen and policemen running up the stairs towards the inferno.  It just wasn’t in me.  I felt that vibration in the stairwell, and I ran.  I was scared.  I ran.

I survived.  I got out of there.  John didn’t.  The last we ever heard of him was that he helped a lady with a broken leg down fifteen flights of stairs.  She survived.  He ran back inside.  I don’t know how many people he saved that day.  He gave his life for them.  Left a wife, Mary, and two teenaged boys.  They never identified his body.

The next few years, I kept reliving it in my mind, in my nightmares.  I grew to hate all Muslims.  I saw them as the enemy.  Then, my cousin, Karen, who married an Egyptian Christian wrote me this note.

I want to share it with you: [takes out letter]

“Dear Peter, I know you have been worried about us as Egypt has really erupted in violence.  I know you have heard of the 21 Christians who were killed in that terrorist attack by the radical Islamists.  Well, Christmas Eve was the scariest night of my life.  We had been warned not to attend Mass, to stay away from the church, but we couldn't.  We couldn’t deny our savior.  We left our homes, afraid that we would never return.  That the promised attacks on us on this holy night would be the end.  That the Muslims would never let us worship or follow our beliefs.

As we approached the church, we parked several blocks away, and walked, they were there, waiting for us.  Hundreds of Muslims, in front of our church.  At first we thought they were a mob waiting to prevent us from celebrating Christmas Eve Mass.  But they weren’t.  They met us, hugged us, and told us that “if the terrorists want to kill you, they’ll have to kill us to.  They stayed there, the entire mass, waiting outside the church, acting as human shields, willing to give their lives for us.”

I read this, and it broke me.  John’s sacrifice, then these Muslims, the ones I thought were all evil, did this and possibly saved my cousin Karen and her family.  And I realized, life should never be about hate and fear, but about Love.  Love of God, and Love of Others.  I’m Peter, and my message is love.


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