The Mosque in the Sunken Ship

International news fills the pages of publications that hide the financial problems and the major reforms that the North American president is promoting.* Why would a ship from the 18th century — if found in my town — not be heard of anywhere else? But if it’s found in the excavation of “ground zero” in New York, everybody knows at once, and it becomes big news.

My beautiful hometown is something local, very regional, and only a few care about it, but the American megalopolis is a city of cities and for many, the lighthouse and the smokestack of the world. What happens there affects the most unexpected places on the planet. Some would say that this is a chance finding sent from above. [This story] is an anecdote, but one that occurs in one of the most considerable areas of the planet and can be read in many ways (especially in our country, now the most important in the global landscape of the world), as I’ve been told by all kinds of people who have arrived from the most remote corners of the world to the city of the skyscrapers.

The attacks on the Twin Towers in Manhattan opened the 21st century with a new kind of war that we suffer every time we go through the security controls at any airport and that turned the area where many thousands of people lost their lives because of some fanatics into one of darkest places of the world. Surrounded by majestic buildings, deep and muddy ruins open like a huge wound in the most powerful country in the world. Discussions regarding the possible reconstruction of this place have been filled with mental debris, especially when everyone found out about the idea of building a mosque in the new buildings to replace those destroyed by terrorists. For many, it is like a mockery, a joke, since those who brought them down and killed so many thousands of people, shaking the entire world, did it in the name of Islam.

For others, it is precisely this that can shed light — not so much to put an Islamic flag on top of New York, but to demonstrate that the U.S. can accept, as indeed it does, all religions that respect freedom and basic rights. The same is happening in our Europe. That would be the mosque of penance that may teach a wise and gentle version of that religion to future generations. New York was an English town, with its church steeples as its highest references. Then industrialization came, and along with it, so did the smokestacks. Now we have the vain skyscrapers of media or financial companies, currently sinking, just like the found ship.

Perhaps churches and Buddhist temples and mosques will be rebuilt on top of its highest buildings, but it is clear that the new gods of the empire are dollars that have flown away and disappeared. Illusions. However, a great spirit persists in many Americans who continue to create new ways to try to remain — in their emblem city, a world of worlds, for all races and beliefs — in an incipient peace.

The wood that may seem rotten now can come together and rebuild the ship, or its reconstruction can be created with new ones, preserving the structure of a civilization full of successes, despite its resounding failures. There are some people who would locate the mosque in the most polluted sea floor, while others would prefer to refloat the ship. But whatever it is, we are all on board this planet, and we’d better get along on the journey through this life. We swim as though it is a sandy desert. But we can also create an oasis and reach the desired port together while respecting each other.

*Editor’s note: This article refers to the 18th century ship recently found at the future World Trade Center site. SEE HERE

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