Posted by: Trisha Leigh | September 13, 2010

Turns Out Our Parents DID Know Stuff

My next-door neighbor and I were born 4 days apart. We were inseparable until 5th grade, when my family moved a whole mile away. We had our differences, of course. I complained to my father on several occasions about her tendency to invade my personal space. He told me to punch her in the nose, then laughed. I was five. I punched her in the nose.

My dad got in so much trouble with my mother.

I felt terrible and apologized. We moved forward. She forgave me. We haven’t always been friends but we are now.

Remember when we were small and our parents spoke in clichéd phrases? It seems cheesy now, but it made their advice easier to remember.

Turn the other cheek. (okay, maybe Jesus said that before my parents.)

Don’t sink to their level.

Be the bigger person.

You’re stronger and/or better than that.

Fighting never solved anything.

If you get mad you’re only giving them what they want.

Funny how adults forget their own advice, or think it’s only good for teaching children. I’m as guilty as the next person. I give in to temptation and talk about people behind their back, lash out when someone offends me. I sat in bed reflecting on 9/11, though, and it occurred to me that we could take a little of this “childish” advice to heart as a nation, as Christians, and as human beings.

Nine years later and we’re still not ready to be the bigger people. We’re proving we’re not better, that we’re willing to sink to their level. We’re fighting with a group of peaceful Islamic people over the location of their mosque. What are we doing but spreading hatred and prejudice? We’re publicizing a preacher with 50 congregants threatening to burn a Quran. The media attention is giving him an outlet to spread his poisonous, anti-Christian message. By getting angry we’re giving him exactly what he wants. Far better to ignore him. This is America. He can burn a hundred books if he wants to; we don’t have to put it on television.

I’d like to think that the people who died in those planes and those buildings would not want revenge, a perpetuation of death. That they would recognize nothing will change unless America makes a commitment to tolerance and inclusion, turns its back on violence and hatred.

The one piece of advice we know to be false is that fighting never solved anything. Sometimes we should fight. America has battled proudly in the past and won things like freedom, independence, autonomy, the right to pursue life as we choose. We helped save millions of lives as Hitler struggled to snuff them out.

Sometimes fighting is the right thing to do. The key is to peel away the anger, hate, and prejudice to find the issue inside – to discover whether or not it’s worthy of fighting over.

A handful of radical terrorists who happened to be Muslim attacked America nine years ago. It made us angry. It made us hate them. We lashed out. It continues to foster prejudice.

But if we advocate stopping construction of the mosque in NYC, what are we fighting for?

I can’t come up with a good answer for that, because the way I see it, we’re not fighting for anything. We’re exhibiting the same undesirable traits as the terrorists who stunned us. Hate. Intolerance. A blind resistance to accepting other worldviews.

Those are not the principles that founded this country. They are not the traits that made us great.

We should not forget those who lost their lives in that tragic exhibition of violence. We should honor them by going forward with an attitude of inclusion, love, tolerance, and understanding whenever possible.

One last piece of advice from my parents: If you want to see change in others, you have to first change yourself.

So come on, Americans. Let’s alter our own attitude before we expect to see change in others.



  1. Excellent post and even better reminder. But the whole mosque issue on the site bugs me.

    I don’t want anything built there. To me, it’s now hallowed ground. I don’t think the freedom tower or any ‘building’ should be erected there.

    Just put a fence around it, hang a plaque or erect a statue with the names of all that died there. A gravestone. Because that’s what it is. A grave.

    That way, whether you’re Islamic, Christian, Jewish, atheist, or agnostic, you can feel welcome to visit that place instead of further polarized.

    • That’s a good point about no building anything there. That I could understand.

  2. I to remember that day you punched me in the nose. I was the one who NEVER listened to my parents when I was young, but I do listen to them now. I think the best advice I ever received, listened to, and go by is that misery always loves company.Why is it that people can’t just let others be happy? The world would be a much better place if we would all just quit feeding off of the drama and heartache of others, and just let things lie the way they are.About the punching in the nose- what’s funny to me is…..that is quite possibly the same thing I might tell my children one day. Just punch’em in the nose 🙂

    • Hahaha, Jocelyn I can’t believe you remember that too – or that you would encourage your children to do such a thing!!

      I am so anti-drama it’s unbelievable. I can’t even function with drama in the vicinity.

  3. I think you should look beyond the mere who is “being bigger” aspect, as there are much larger issues at stake, especially when you consider the feelings of the families of 9-11 and the motives of the individuals behind this mosque.

    Here is my latest post on the subject:

    Also feel free to check out my sponsor:

    • You are, of course, entitled to your opinion but I think you should take a look at your own advice – and what lies behind it. Actions should never be taken based on “feelings” alone. The motives of the individuals behind the mosque are known only to them – if we ascribed motives to them we are only assuming based on their religious belief.

      • I think the motives of the syndicate of individuals behind this mosque should be quite apparent to all but the most naïve or disingenuous among us. If you still need convincing, take a look at the recent and past actions and words of the Imam at the center of this controversy; they have nothing to do with any legitimate religion:

  4. Trisha–Awesome post. It really hit home with me. Thanks for taking a stand about this. I believe in freedom of religion and, as you wrote, “inclusion, love, tolerance, and understanding.”

    • Thanks, Jamey. I worried about the political nature of the blog – even though I didn’t intend it that way. I’m glad it resonated with you.

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