In response to the “Burn the Quran Day” Florida pastor, I’ve decided to promote a counter day:
The First International Have a Meal with a Muslim Day
Initiate dialogues, not bonfires.
And so The First International Have a Meal with a Muslim Day is hereby declared for the following date:
Friday, September 17, 2010.
Spread the word, find a Muslim, and invite him or her out for some coffee or a bite to eat and a chat (breakfast, lunch, or dinner) on September 17th. And if the 17th is a bad day for you and your invitee, then shoot for a time within a week of that date (before or behind).
Tell him or her that you’re doing it for The First International Have a Meal with a Muslim Day—a day designed to open up human conversations between Muslim and non-Muslim neighbors.
The rules: eat and drink what you want and talk about what you want.
I’m an agnostic, and I’m going on September 17th to an early dinner with a coworker. Maybe my wife and kids will come along; and maybe his will do likewise. I’ve known him for ten years. He lit up on the invitation to join me for a meal, and the reason that I was asking him. He thought the “Have a Meal with a Muslim” idea was amusing and life-affirming; sort of like “Take Your Daughter to Work Day.”
In talking further, my coworker and I now might start a monthly meet-up for dialogue, bringing in other people and advertising it to locals (we live in Los Angeles County), but for now we’ve at least got September 17th set for a meal and conversation together.
And maybe this will go viral, which is why I need you. If you’ve got a blog or a Facebook account, might you spread the word about September 17th? Or if you’re a journalist, might you contact me (my name is Santi Tafarella and my email is email@example.com).
Also, if you have any thoughts on how to proceed, or an opinion about the idea in general, or think I haven’t thought of something, please share it in the thread below. And, of course, if you invite a Muslim for a meal or coffee on September 17th, let me know that as well.
Wouldn’t it be nice if, for every attendee at the Florida pastor’s Quran burning, there was another person in the thread below who wrote, “I invited a Muslim for coffee,” or “I’m Muslim, and I invited a non-Muslim to lunch this week.”
Why am I doing this? Because I believe that dialogue is the hope of the world. So long as people keep talking, I think they’ll find that they have more in common than they imagine, not less. And that’s the whole premise of the Anglo-French Enlightenment: we share a universal human reason and we need not be opaque or hostile toward one another.
Set in religious terms, I believe that this is the position of most Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, and Christians as well.
And the Beatles held this view too (see below).
So why not talk?
Have a meal or coffee with a Muslim on September 17th, won’t you?
Go on. I bet you can find at least one.
And let me know how it went.