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And God smiled

I watched a nice athletic event today that was worthy of note.  It was the final of the men’s doubles at the U.S. Open.  Bob and Mike Bryan (known as The Bryans), were playing Aisam-Ul-Queshri and Rohan Bopanna.   The Bryans have been ranked number one in the world for 205 weeks.  They have won 65 doubles titles, including nine grand slams.  Queshri and Bopanna lack the championship resume of the Bryans but they more than make up for it in other ways.  Queshri is from Pakistan while Bopanna is from India --- nuclear neighbors with a long history of distrust and conflict.  They teamed up in 2005 and became fast friends.  At this year’s Wimbledon, they showed up wearing warm-ups that said, “Stop War.  Start Tennis.”  They’re now known as the Indo-Pak Express and they’re bringing people together.  At Wednesday’s semi-final match, the Pakistani and Indian ambassadors to the U.N. were seen sitting together and cheering the Express on.

The match today was great tennis --- it was played at a high level and each of the two sets went to a tie-breaker with the Bryans winning both and the match.  At the awards ceremony afterwards, Queshri took the opportunity to speak a few words on behalf of his country which has been devastated by severe flooding that has affected an estimated 17 million people.  I want to say something on behalf of all Pakistanis.  There's a bad perception that Pakistan is a terrorist nation. We're a friendly, loving, caring people. We want peace as much as you guys. May God bless us all."  They were the right words for the right moment and the diverse crowd warmly received them.  Then he thanked the Bryans, who are making a donation to the relief effort in Pakistan from their foundation.
So there you have it.  Right there on a tennis court in New York City (and as an AP writer noted), on the eve of 911, with a guy in Florida threatening to burn the Quran, and a debate raging about building an Islamic Center and mosque in the very same city, four guys stood together and gave the world a much needed glimpse of brotherhood. 
And God smiled. 
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