As is my usual practice on Mondays, last week I went to my parents for dinner after work. While watching the news and Ground Zero Mosque coverage, my mother relayed a story that for her captured the feelings of, I believe, all of us who oppose the building at that particular site.
Near the neighborhood I grew up in as a child there had been two families, one with a little girl and the other with a little boy. The children were of approximately the same age and were friends and played together often.
One day the two children were playing at the boy’s house and he got into his father’s gun cabinet. In a cruel twist of irony, the boy’s father was a gunsmith. I don’t know if he regularly kept his cabinet unlocked, or that on this particularly tragic day he just failed to secure it. But the gun went off and the girl was shot. She lingered in the hospital for a bit, but infection set in and she later died. It breaks the heart.
Shortly afterwards the boy’s family moved away.
They did so not because they didn’t have a right to live in that neighborhood. They did so not because the rest of the neighborhood was in their yard with torches and pitchforks. They did so not because the little girl’s family demanded they leave.
They did so because they knew what their ongoing presence in that neighborhood would mean to the little girl’s family. Nothing was ever going to bring their little girl back, but every time they saw the boy’s parents or the boy himself, it would be like re-living that awful day again and again.