Yes, the violence we have seen from Radical Islam is terrible. Yes, the attacks in Paris and elsewhere around the world are absolutely tragic. Something needs to be done. There is no doubt about it, and in no way am I trying to lessen the tremendous losses that many have experienced. However, just as the days and weeks following the 9/11 attacks on the US in 2001, we seem to be in dire need of stepping back, taking a deep breath, looking at the big picture, and reconsidering how we want to define ourselves.
I have seen so much anger and hatred in the past week that my heart is breaking . Are we/they justified in being angry? Most certainly! Would it be ‘just’ to hate? Maybe. However, as Christians, and even simply as members of humanity, we MUST resist that urge! Hate will destroy us from the inside out. We can hate the evil things that have been done and the many heartbreaking situations surrounding those events, but it is NOT ok to hate individuals because of their country of origin or the religion they profess. Disagree with them? Yes! Condemn such horrible acts? Yes! Take action against them? Quite possibly. Now, I am NOT trying to get into the argument of whether Islam is inherently violent or if it is a peaceful religion that has been hijacked by extremists That is beside the point. My point is that when our response is hatred and violence, we are guilty of exactly what we are criticizing in their religion.
Should we bomb Syria? Maybe. I am not dismissing the idea that this might be part of the solution (and I am quite happy to defer to those with the training to assess that side of the situation). However, if we are completely honest with ourselves, we know that the issue is much bigger than that. In fact, we also need to consider how our actions also have the potential to make matters worse in the process.
Will closing our borders to refugees stop ISIS? Nope, sorry. They will find a way to get in whether or not we restrict immigration. Will it at least help to protect us? Maybe to some small degree, but it is problematic on so many levels at the same time. Punishing the very people who are fleeing these same oppressive regimes simply doesn’t make sense. I understand that the fear here relates to the terrorists who might slip over the border in their midst, but how can we possibly justify punishing so many who are in such dire circumstances because of that chance? Aren’t there better ways to ensure security than fear? I’m not saying we should just throw the borders open without regard for who is coming in. Even without security concerns there economic considerations, but a nation of our size and with our resources could handle that influx much better than many others. Do we need a process to screen those seeking entry? Of course, but even that should not be dictated by fear and hatred. The issue is much deeper than stopping immigration, and this will NOT solve it.
To my American friends – We are a nation of immigrants, so many of whom came in flight from various forms of religious and political persecution. What does the inscription on the Statue of Liberty say? “Give me your tired, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, the tempest-tossed to me” Isn’t the freedom, the chance to start a new life, the hope that so many of these men and women seek exactly what men and women in uniform have been giving their lives to protect for generations now? What are we teaching our children? I’m not claiming to have the answer, but it must be an answer that includes compassion.
To my Christian friends – Yes, I know the balance we must walk in this world is tough, especially when we are angry, and even more-so when the anger is just. But we can’t forget, we can’t let go of, and we can’t lose sight of Grace. Love MUST overcome hate, and light MUST overcome darkness, or where are we?