Monday, September 13, 2010
06:45 AM CDT on Monday, September 13, 2010By JESSICA MEYERS / The Dallas Morning News
In a year when 9/11 commemorations felt as much political as reverential, a North Dallas ceremony the day after the anniversary tried to strip away the tension.
Photos by STEWART F. HOUSE/Special Contributor
Zainab Khurrum (center), 11, of Irving talked to her 10-year-old sister, Hussaina, as they applauded during Sunday's Unity Day USA ceremony at the Unity Church of Dallas. "We're asking people to drop their sub-identity and look to each other as Americans and nothing but Americans," said Mike Ghouse, the president of the Foundation for Pluralism and the event's organizer and founder.
Sunday marked the sixth annual Unity Day USA, an evening ceremony intended to cull something positive from the 9/11 tragedy – a sense of cohesiveness, security and humanity.
Turquoise headscarves, navy turbans and sun-orange robes mixed on stage in the semi-filled sanctuary of Unity Church of Dallas as a handful of civic leaders and religious representatives spoke about the freedom of diversity and the naivete of fear.
"You belong to the country you live in," said Durriya Jamali, adjusting her white headscarf. "I've been here almost half my adult life."
A 43-year old Muslim from India, she's attended Unity Day celebrations since her daughter sang "The Star-Spangled Banner" at the inaugural event. "America is about all people and has nothing to do with religion," she said.
Speakers consolidated their beliefs into one-minute explanations of the "oneness of all religions" preached by Baha'i followers or the "universal oneness" practiced by Vedanta Hinduism devotees. About 100 attendees represented more than 30 religious denominations, including Zoroastrians, Muslims from five sects, and Methodists.
Ghouse had hoped to avoid the divisive issues that hung over this year's formal ceremonies. But they remained an inevitable undercurrent throughout the program.
"Not nearly enough leaders are standing up," said Dallas County Schools president Larry Duncan, referring to objections to an Islamic cultural center near Ground Zero. "I know I am preaching to the choir because you are here. But each of us is standing up to be counted."
The program contained an insert that asked Muslims to pray for the well-being of those who burn the Quran – an indirect nod to the Florida pastor whose threats to destroy copies of the Muslim holy book dominated headlines last week.
"Politics," scoffed Madan Goyal, a 68-year-old Hindu who lives in Plano. "People will try to get whatever advertising they can. This means we can't take anything for granted."
Ghouse envisions a nationwide Unity Day and is making plans for celebrations in 10 cities next year. He said he chose the Sunday after 9/11 to draw a bigger crowd.
"All we can do is raise consciousness so others see people are aware of this," said Len Ellis, president of the Dallas Peace Center. "The alternative is to do nothing, and that's not a good alternative."
Saturday, July 24, 2010
UNITY DAY USA -2010
SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 12, 2010 5:30 PM - 7:30 PM
Unity church of Dallas, 6525 Forest Lane
Dallas, TX 75230
On this Unity Day, we the people of the United States of America of every faith, race, ethnicity, culture and background will gather to express our commitment to co-existence, unity, prosperity and well being of our nation. (Scroll down for the list)
Our civic leaders including Mayors, Council members, State representatives, Senators, Congresspersons and other officials will honor us with their presence. Each Mayor at the event will give a one minute speech to share their thoughts about co-existence and promoting social cohesion in their respective cities. Additionally, our men and women in uniform including police and fire chiefs will be honored for their outstanding service to our nation.
Leaders from various faith communities will share a few words of wisdom from their respective scriptures, beliefs or oral traditions. Unity Day USA is about re-affirming our faith in the goodness in humanity, and the longing for harmony and co-existence. The traditions include but are not limited to Native American, Atheist, Baha’i, Buddhist, Christian, Earth-traditions, Hindu, Muslim, Jain, Jewish, Sikh, Wicca and Zoroastrians; thus it is an all inclusive event.
It is an experience to feel a sense of unity with fellow Americans that brings forth a feeling of coming home to where we drop all of our identities and to be united together as an American family.
As Americans we uphold, protect, defend and celebrate the values enshrined in our constitution. Our faiths reinforce the idea of one nation with liberty and justice for all.
1. Please mark your calendar for Sunday, September 12, 2010 between 5:30 PM and 7:30 PM, and send a confirmation of your intent to attend with your names to: email@example.com.
2. For details, including pictures from the last five years, please visit http://www.unitydayusa.com/
3. If you wish your organization and place of worship to be listed as participating organization, please send the name and URL of your organizations to: firstname.lastname@example.org, it will be listed on our website. We have had 90 organizations participate in our previous events.
A few selected comments from the fist event.
Civic Leaders and Mayors who attended
Organizations (90) who have been a part of the event
Who is attending?
The general public including you.
The people representing different faiths on the stage... and civic leadership
Are you in the group? If not, please join.
We are looking for confirmations, if you wish to represent the non-assigned group, please let us know and we are still waiting for confirmations ...
- Ahmadiyya - confirmed
- Atheism - confirmed
- Bahai - confirmed
- Bohra - confirmed
- Buddhists - confirmed
- Choctaw - confirmed
- Christian - confirmed
- Church of God
- Confucius - confirmed
- Earth Traditions - confirmed
- Evangelicals - confirmed
- Greek Orthodox
- Hare Krishna - confirmed
- Hinduism - confirmed
- Ismaili - confirmed
- Jehovah's witness
- Judaism - confirmed
- Methodist - confirmed
- New Thought
- Pagan - Confirmed
- Presbyterian - confirmed
- Protestant - confirmed
- Spiritualists - confirmed
- Sunni - confirmed
- Unification Church - confirmed
- Unity - confirmed
- Unitarian Universalists
- Urantia - confirmed
- Vendantic Hinduism - confirmed
- Warith Deen Muhammad - confirmed
- Zoroastrian - confirmed
No matter what sub-identity we prefix to it, we are all Americans. I request each one of you to be who you are, and be proud of it, it is what you believe and it works for you.
What does it take to build orderly societies?
What does it take for you, me and others to feel safe and live in peace?
We have to consciously create institutions and systems that will become a catalyst to a positive change and bring about cohesive functioning of the society. It is our duty to keep law and order and faithfully guard the safety of every citizen. As an individual, I cannot be safe if the people around me aren’t, it is in my interest to seek peace for all of us.
We have a monumental task to repair the World, and we will do our part in working towards a World of co-existence, one person at a time. We are committed, and now join us with the blessings of the all pervasive, omnicient energy that some call it cosmic energy, some don't believe in the existence of such a being and many call him God in so many ways...
Civic Leaders from several cities including Mayors, fire and police chiefs
Sunday, September 12, 2010 5:30 PM – 7:30 PM
Pledge of Allegiance
Purpose of Unity day
PROGRAM FUNDED BY
Mr. Mansoor Shah
Mr. Farooq Hemani
Mr. Amir Ali Rupani
Dr. Basheer Ahmed
.... what about you?
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
6th ANNUAL UNITY DAY USA
On this Unity Day USA, we the people of the United States of America of every faith, race, ethnicity, culture and background will gather to express our commitment to co-existence, Unity, safety, prosperity and well being of our nation.
Ticket: Complimentary, courtesy of the sponsors
It is a day to experience a sense of unity with fellow Americans, as we drop all our identities for the two hours we are together and be with each other as Americans. If we shy away from consciously shaping our future, we may drift into the abyss of incoherence. We may be fighting against deeply entrenched positions rather than finding solutions to the common issues; peace, security and prosperity of fellow Americans.
Please visit http://www.unitydayusa.com/ for details including pictures from last five years.
Please mark your calendar for Sunday, September 12, 2010 between 5:30 PM and 7:30 PM .
Please send a confirmation of your intent to attend with names to: email@example.com.
You will be reminded with details of the place. If you wish your organization (any except business) to be listed as participating organization, please send the name and URL of your organizations to: firstname.lastname@example.org .