In lieu of a perfect world | Windows and Mirrors

Violence in the world will happen but we shouldn’t just resign ourselves to it.

In lieu of a perfect world | Windows and Mirrors

A few weeks ago, pastor Lara Bolger invited me to her church, Redmond United Methodist Church (RUMC), to discuss this column.

I visited the church on Feb. 17 and while there, I discussed the genesis of Windows and Mirrors and talked about a few pieces in particular I have learned from the most. My appearance was during a regular Sunday service, and after the service I had the opportunity to talk to some congregation members.

A few people noted that I was very brave to speak at the church. I thought this was referring to the public speaking aspect of being on stage at the front of the church, all eyes on me (there’s a reason I got into print journalism and not broadcast). But at least a couple people were referring to me just going to church as I am not Christian and — as I had mentioned earlier to the group — my experience in such places of worship had previously been limited to wedding ceremonies. My family and I are Buddhist and my experience at RUMC had been my first time attending a regular church service.

The truth is, while I was honored and excited by the invitation, a part of me was admittedly a little nervous. But this had more to do with speaking in front of an audience in a new environment and less to do with the fact that it just happened to be at a church.

Throughout my career as a journalist, I have written a number of stories focused on different religious groups. And one thing I’ve experienced is that no matter the religion — whether it’s Christianity, Islam, Judaism or anything in between — I have always felt welcomed by these communities.

This open and welcoming nature is one of the defining characteristics, at least in my opinion, of what it means to be a religion.

Houses of worship are places people go to seek solace and comfort. It’s not uncommon for someone who is going through a hard time to seek out a higher power.

So when a place traditionally sought for refuge is targeted, the attack is felt all the more keenly.

But it still happens — whether it’s a black church in Charleston, South Carolina, or a synagogue in Pittsburgh. And here in the Pacific Northwest and on the Eastside, we are not immune. In recent years, mosques in Bellevue and Redmond have been targets of arson and vandalism, respectively and both multiple times.

And just last week, on March 15, two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand were targeted in a mass shooting that took the lives of 50 people at the time of print publication.

In a world where such tragic events are unfortunately happening more often, there are a couple things we can count on happening:

People start asking why. Why did this happen? Why did the perpetrator(s) target these groups in particular? Why did they feel this way? Just, why?

People may feel unsafe. Questions are raised about whether more violence will happen in other parts of the world.

And people come out to support the targeted communities.

This support comes from around the world and extends beyond the local community.

Following the attacks in Christchurch, love, thoughts and prayers have come pouring in, supporting the city’s Muslim community as well as Muslims all over the world, making sure people feel welcomed in the communities where they live and worship.

Locally, people have been visiting local mosques on the Eastside offering these groups their support. And just as it has been happening around the world, our local police departments have also reached out to the mosques in their respective jurisdictions, making sure they feel safe and secure.

These gestures are beautiful and amazing to see. But they shouldn’t be needed — for a number of reasons.

First, in a perfect world, such acts of violence against any group — religious, cultural, what have you — would not be happening.

But we don’t live in a perfect world and violence will happen. That doesn’t mean we should be resigned to it and see it as inevitable.

It just means that we as a society need to take more time to get to know those who are different from us and learn from them. Because that’s how you build bridges between communities and when you do that, you’re more likely to find common ground and as a result, learn empathy for others.

And second, people should not need an act of violence to be reassured that they are welcomed and belong in their communities. But again, that elusive perfect world does not exist and there are people who do not feel included in their communities.

So it’s up to the rest of us to make sure they know they are welcomed and that they are important members of our communities — no matter what they believe or whether they even believe anything at all.

And it shouldn’t take something horrific happening for this to happen.

Windows and Mirrors is a bimonthly column focused on telling the stories of people whose voices are not often heard. If you have something you want to say, contact editor Samantha Pak at spak@ soundpublishing.com.


In consideration of how we voice our opinions in the modern world, we’ve closed comments on our websites. We value the opinions of our readers and we encourage you to keep the conversation going.

Please feel free to share your story tips by emailing editor@redmond-reporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.redmond-reporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 300 words or less, we won’t ask you to shorten it.

More in Opinion

Don C. Brunell is a business analyst, writer and columnist. He retired as president of the Association of Washington Business, the state’s oldest and largest business organization, and lives in Vancouver. He can be contacted at thebrunells@msn.com.
Why should the threat to Taiwan concern us in WA? | Brunell

Unfortunately, what happens in Taiwan doesn’t just stay in Taiwan — it… Continue reading

Federal Way resident Bob Roegner is a former mayor of Auburn. Contact bjroegner@comcast.net.
Election 2021: Closer look at King County races | Roegner

The race for Mayor of Seattle will dominate the regional media, but… Continue reading

Federal Way resident Bob Roegner is a former mayor of Auburn. Contact bjroegner@comcast.net.
Questions surround vaccine exemptions for state workers | Roegner

With about 4,800 state employees in 24 agencies requesting vaccine exemptions, which… Continue reading

Dr. Jayendrina Singha Ray serves as Faculty of English at Highline College. Her research interests include postcolonial studies, spatial literary studies, British literature, and rhetoric and composition. Prior to teaching in the U.S., she worked as an editor with Routledge and taught English at colleges in India.
What the Afghan wants to say: Arezo’s journey to America | Guest column

In our little Zoom room, I hear my interviewee break into sobs.… Continue reading

Federal Way resident Bob Roegner is a former mayor of Auburn. Contact bjroegner@comcast.net.
Can a Texas-style abortion law happen in Washington? | Roegner

If politicians really want to anger women voters, the easiest way is… Continue reading

Don C. Brunell is a business analyst, writer and columnist. He retired as president of the Association of Washington Business, the state’s oldest and largest business organization, and lives in Vancouver. He can be contacted at thebrunells@msn.com.
Reasons to ban Gov. Jay Inslee’s natural gas ban | Brunell

Column: Switching from natural gas to electricity is complicated and will impact everyone.

Don C. Brunell is a business analyst, writer and columnist. He recently retired as president of the Association of Washington Business, the state’s oldest and largest business organization, and now lives in Vancouver. He can be contacted at thebrunells@msn.com.
Vaccinations improve our health and employment numbers | Brunell

It is not surprising that COVID-19, which ravaged the world, was disastrous… Continue reading

Federal Way resident Bob Roegner is a former mayor of Auburn. Contact bjroegner@comcast.net.
Firefighters vs. the governor’s vaccine mandate | Roegner

We all thought we were in this fight with the coronavirus together,… Continue reading

Providence employees look at anti-vaccine mandate protesters as they cross the street outside of Providence Regional Medical Center Everett on Aug. 18, 2021. Olivia Vanni/Sound Publishing
Editorial: A message to the unvaccinated and unmasked

We know you’re frustrated with mandates and advice, but consider our frustrations and, yes, our anger.

Federal Way resident Bob Roegner is a former mayor of Auburn. Contact bjroegner@comcast.net.
Back to the classroom during abnormal times | Roegner

If it didn’t feel so normal, we might forget about the coronavirus… Continue reading

Robert Toomey, CFA/CFP, is Vice President of Research for S. R. Schill & Associates on Mercer Island.
What’s up with the real estate market? | Guest column

As we all know, the residential real estate market and prices have… Continue reading

9/11 Memorial in Cashmere, Washington. Photo courtesy of Greg Asimakoupoulos
Twenty years after tragedy brought us together | Guest column

Recently, I was reflecting on where I was and what I was… Continue reading