The hateful Terry Jones—yes, that Terry Jones of Florida who burned the Qur’an—took his crazy show to Time Square in New York.
Jones stood wearing a T-shirt that read: “All I needed to learn about Islam I learned on 9/11”, and proceeded to spew his venom about Islam being a religion of bondage and violence.
How do you overcome that kind of bigotry?
What does it take to shine a light into that type of ignorance?
Apparently, all you need is…..love. (Thank you, The Beatles)
And the contagious courage that begins with one person.
There, confronted with the bigotry of Jones stood one New Yorker who decided that freedom of speech—yes, the same freedom of speech that allows Jones to stand in New York’s most famous square—also gave him the right to speak.
He didn’t exchange Qur’an verses and Bible verses with Jones, and didn’t cite historical data about the atrocities of Muslim and Christian empires.
What this brave New Yorker did was something much simpler yet more powerful.
He started singing out loud The Beatles’ beloved “All you need is love.”
At first he sang alone, his voice shaking and quivering.
And then one by one people joined in, drowning out Jones’ hate-filled soliloquy with a loving A cappella that encompassed Time Square, New York City, America, and the world.
Here is the video of this confrontation.
It takes one to start.
Every struggle against injustice and hatred starts with one person who stands up against the silence of their own soul; it starts with one person who says that I will not be silent against this atrocity, come what may.
Yes, my voice quivers and yes I fear for what may happen to me.
But ultimately it’s not what will happen to me if I speak up, it’s what will happen to my neighbor if I remain silent.
Yes, we do need education.
Yes, we need to learn about one another and from one another and with one another.
We also need love.
It’s love that transforms us, uplifts us, changes us, and redeems us.
Love may not be all we need.
But we cannot get to where we need to get without love.
We need love.
Yes, there are larger issues at stakes, yes there are systematic issues of oppression and ignorance that have to be addressed, but we need love.
Thank you, New Yorkers.
Here is a lovely version of The Beatles’ anthem, "All You need is love."