A beautiful photograph of two fathers and their children is going viral on social media, and for good reason.
Chicago Tribune Photographer Nuccio DiNuzzo snapped a picture of Fatih Yildirim and Rabbi Jordan Bendat-Appell (Muslim and Jewish, respectively) protesting last week’s Muslim ban at O’Hare International Airport.
The Rabbi said he came to the airport because he believes in standing up for the oppressed. The families have since exchanged information and plan to enjoy a Shabbat meal together.
I, too, showed up to my local airport protest this weekend because of my faith: I’m a committed Christian.
Now, I don’t mean ‘committed’ in the “I’m so hard-core that I go to great lengths to project a squeaky-clean image of holier-than-thou perfection” sort of way, but rather in the “I’m so hard-core that my husband and I spent $100,000 on two Master’s degrees and a PhD in the New Testament and therefore couldn’t afford to own a home until we were nearly 40” sort of way.
So yeah, despite what my Republican family members would have you believe, God is pretty important to me. And the God I know is a God of empathy.
I’m only telling you about our educational background to give you hope that there are people of all faiths who understand that Donald Trump’s new nickname, “Twitler,” is not so far fetched. We understand that the horrors of history, like the Holocaust and the Crusades, began when people stopped seeing the humanity in their neighbors.
Unfortunately, the volume of one’s megaphone is usually inversely proportionate to their level of empathy, so we get these fringe nut-jobs seeking to propagate hatred, making us all seem like jerks by default.
For instance, I saw an interview with some white nationalists who insisted the reason America is a safe place to live is because we have kept Jesus “in” and Muslims “out.” It made my blood boil. In response, I wanted to say, “Hey, Jesus fam, Muslim refugees ARE statistically safe people. But besides that, I’m pretty sure God’s number one concern is not your safety in this life, mmkay? (*see: crucifixion, *see also: early church martyrs, *see also: centuries of missionaries, *see also: the longstanding Christian belief in the afterlife).
The irony is not lost on me that there are also Christians who would like to build a wall on the Mexican border but will likely ask me to help fund their short-term mission trips to Mexico later this year. And for that reason, I’ll kindly ask them to STFU, in Jesus’ name. (It’s fine, guys, I’m their sister. I’m allowed to swear at them once in a while. Sometimes we need to nag our brothers to get their heads out of thier asses. You know, for the greater good.)
Showing up to the airport this weekend was my way to say to my Muslim neighbors, “You are important. You are loved. You are welcome at my table, because we do not have to agree about everything in order to honor each other as humans.”
My hope is that the bread broken at the Yildirim/Bendat-Appell table this Shabbat will inspire the rest of us to open our homes — our lives — to people different from ourselves, because that’s what God would do. It’s kind of His thing.