Posted in Political

It’s On Us

I hear the word intolerance bandied about a lot in our public conversations of late, mostly in reference to the conservative segment of our society.  This, along with racism, has become the clarion cry on the left, being brought to bear whenever the views and actions of the present ruling class is called into question.  It seems that the more liberal segment of society has become quite comfortable with the veiled name-calling and demonization of the opposing view as the chosen weapon in their assault on the traditions and beliefs that have guided this country through more than two hundred years of our history as we rose from humble beginnings to become the guiding and stabilizing force in a world rife in selfish and cruel leaders.  How some of our citizens can embrace the very ideas that shook us on that fateful September day when a handful of Muslim extremists began in earnest that conquest of the western world.  A conquest that had, until then, been mostly confined to a small but volatile desert area in which a stew of turmoil and tribal strife has held sway for thousands of years, exacerbated by the occupation of lands by the nineteenth and early twentieth century European empire building of the fading superpowers such as England, France, and Spain.  Yes, the U.S. made some egregious errors as we tried to sort out the mess left by the empire-builders, but is Iran a better place under the present regime?  Is Syria?  Libya?  The choices were basically a rock and a hard spot.  Everyone seems to have gotten it wrong.  It is much easier to subjugate a people if you can redirect their anger to a perceived enemy, and we were a handy and large target.

                While it can be argued that these extremists do not represent the whole of Islam it must be said that in not condemning the violence and hatred being spewed in the name of Islam, the Muslim world must accept some of the responsibility for the continuing vitriol and terror that seems to spread like a virus on a computer; stealthily and under the cover of seemingly legitimate auspices.  We, as a whole, can fight this in a reactive manner only.  The solution must come from The Muslim community.  If Allah is the God of peace that his adherents claim, then it is an obligation for them to root out the evil that is disguising itself as righteous and hiding amongst them.  Actions speak louder than words.  If Muslims become defensive and turn a blind eye to this misuse of their faith it only serves to exacerbate the problem, further dividing our nation and the world.  Have we forgotten that while the leaders of the Arab and Islamic nations sent us their condolences after the 9/11 attacks we could see images of their citizens celebrating and encouraging the downfall of the “evil satan, America.  All Peoples are harmed when one group is unjustly attacked and innocent people are sacrificed.  Violence begets only violence.  It is important that we do not impute blame upon the victims while granting victim status to the murderers.  If we sink to the level in our collective conscience of justifying the murder of innocents, whatever the past provocations may be, then I sincerely fear for our country.  I have seen isolated calls by Muslims to their brothers in faith to reject the violence and speak out against the terror, but for the most part I see an attitude of “It’s not my problem.”  They rail against the perception that it is an Islam problem, but then turn the other way as evil men hijack their religion for evil.

I am a Christian, and we cannot think that we are blameless in the rancor and separation that threatens to tear us apart along artificial lines drawn in the sand by people with something to gain by the exploitation of the magnification our differences.  We too are guilty of turning a blind eye to those who would hijack our faith to promote decidedly un-Christian behavior.  A person can call themselves anything they want in this country.  That is a part of what makes us a nation of destination to so many.  It is up to the many varied communities that make up our country to police their own.  A Christian does not hate anyone.  Christ’s single display of anger was directed not toward those who believed or acted in a manner at odds with His teachings, but toward those who would hijack the true worship of God for their own personal gain.  All people, regardless of differences of race, religion, or national origin are children of the one God.  He loves us all equally, not only those who believe in Him or follow His laws. 

“But whosoever shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.”  Matthew 18:6

These were Christ’s words, and as we are all children of God, this describes the love that God has for all his people.  That is the love that we are to emulate in dealing with each other.  What is not clear about treating others as you would have them treat you?  What is so hard?

The thing is, if we do not police ourselves, then someone else is going to come and take that task upon themselves.  And, as happened on the terrible day in September, the wrong people took it upon themselves to enforce their own, twisted interpretation of justice.  God calls us to hold each other accountable.  Failing that , we are at the mercy of charlatans and pretenders. 

If every group could take responsibility for themselves we could live with a lot less intrusion in our personal lives.  Accepting responsibility is always more effective than assigning blame.  If the immigrant community would take responsibility we could solve the illegal immigration problem and sensible reform would be a simple matter.  If the gay community ensured that it’s members would respect the thoughts and traditions of the people around them we could solve a lot of the hate and misinformation that clouds the debate.  Likewise the heterosexual community needs to join against the promotion of hatred and misinformation that also blocks a system in which we can respect all people as individuals worthy of respect and support.  If each race could see and address the problems in their own communities and deal with them in a caring way without empowering the behaviors that cause the problems in the first place.  If each faith could promote understanding and peaceful outreach rather than defending or ignoring uncharacteristic violence and rancor we could join to solve the real problems of the world, hunger, disease, and the evil men and women who would subjugate and corrupt our brothers and sisters throughout the world.  If we would quit tearing apart the institutions and traditions that brought us together to accomplish a purpose and instead build on and improve on those strong foundations we could bring our nation once again to the proud and admired status that we once  held as defenders of the weak and sanctuary for the oppressed. 

I recently wrote in this blog of our unwillingness to dig beyond the evidence that supports our own beliefs and customs.  I believe that this mind-set is at least partially responsible not only for the bitter political battles in this country and around the world but also for the serious divisions that I have discussed.  There is an old saying attributed to Native American wisdom which says  “Don’t criticize someone until you have walked a mile in his moccasins.”  Now, more than ever before, we need to embrace that wisdom brought to us by the first Americans.  Would that we had applied that to the people that gave it to us we would be living in a much richer and more natural culture than we live in now. 

Hopefully we can come to a place once again where some things are not to be tolerated because they are just plain wrong.  Then we could go back to loving each other as well as ourselves.  Not just the ones that we agree with, but everyone.

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10 thoughts on “It’s On Us

  1. I wrote a response and then something happened and it “blipped” off the screen before I could finish it so . . . I’m beginning again.

    Whoa, some very heavy writing! Thank you for sharing. Much to contemplate on. And you know, as I read, I found several paragraphs that also would have been great first paragraphs. That led me to believe that an interesting experiment might be to break up a message and post different parts several on consecutive days and then watch the # of views – is it relatively consistent or does it vary from day to day any differently than it does currently? Just a thought. I love you. You’re such a TALENTED writer.

  2. You wrote: “While it can be argued that these extremists do not represent the whole of Islam it must be said that in not condemning the violence and hatred being spewed in the name of Islam, the Muslim world must accept some of the responsibility for the continuing vitriol and terror that seems to spread like a virus on a computer…”

    Why? Why does the Muslim world have to accept some responsibility? Does the Christian world have to accept responsibility for the bombings of abortion clinics by radical pro-life self-described Christians?

    You don’t understand Islam if you think acts of jihad do not represent Islam. There is only one Islam. What differs is how people represent it. They can either follow the scriptures, doctrines, and historical precedence or they can pick-and-choose what they like and discard what does not suit their personal preferences.

    But ultimately Islam is evil, it is based on a lie. There is nothing good about it except perhaps that people may be led to Christ after experiencing the spiritual desert that is Islam.

  3. Natassia, I do understand your point and do not disagree but I prefer to not just “preach to the choir”, and have found that I cannot convince anyone of anything once I have offended them. I have never been able to change the minds of my enemies, while my friends are willing to listen and have at times been enlightened. I do not limit those that I respect as people to those who at this moment agree with me. I am a devoted Christian man who would like nothing more than for the whole world to know my Saviour, Jesus Christ and to worship the One True God, but to do that I must promote compassion rather than anger. Thank you for your thoughts and for some new insights that I experienced upon reading your blog. God Bless:)

  4. This isn’t about a choir, and it certainly isn’t about preaching. You and I are not in agreement, and I don’t believe either of us are trying to “preach.”

    This also isn’t necessarily about anger, although I believe we are justified in being angry about jihad and attacks on our people. We are also justified in being angry at an evil ideology that enslaves people.

    Compassion has its time and place. We should have compassion on those poor people raised and trapped under Islam who have no choice but conformity or persecution.

    But I have no compassion for the mujahideen. To have compassion on them is to sully the idea of compassion. I hope for their good, but that is God’s “good,” not my idea of it nor theirs.

    I fear the idea of a “tolerant & liberal” Christianity. Many times it means whatever the going fad says “tolerant & liberal” means…and that oftentimes means acceptance of that which is wrong.

    Compassion means speaking the truth with kindness. But it is still the truth.

    Thank you for taking the time to read my blog, and perhaps I can direct you to more informative sites that can better explain Islam from its scriptures, doctrine, and history.

  5. Sorry, I mistook you for someone who read what I said before giving their opinion on it. I did not defend or offer sympathy to jihadists and doubt that any are reading my blog anyway. Sounds like you won’t be either. I am perfectly able to do my own research, thank you. I think that you mistake compassion for sympathy, and I ccould perhaps refer you to a good dictionary. Have a nice day and God bless.

  6. No need to be snippy.

    But you still never answered my question as to WHY the Muslim world needs to take any responsibility for acts of terrorism by people who call themselves Muslims.

    That really is my main point here.

    If the problem isn’t really Islam itself but rather the “extremists,” then why should the rest of the billion or so Muslims who don’t practice Islam in “extreme” have to take any responsibility for the actions of a fringe element?

    And I don’t mean to be pedantic, but since you brought it up…

    Some dictionary definitions of compassion include:

    a deep awareness of and sympathy for another’s suffering (Princeton’s Wordnet)

    Deep awareness of the suffering of another coupled with the wish to relieve it. (Free Online Dictionary)

    a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering (Reference.com)

    sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it (Merriam-Webster Online)

    As you can see, this is a totally inappropriate response to the mujahideen and those who actively seek to harm our people, including our children.

  7. I guess I do not understand the questian. I believe that Christians have a resposibility to denounce inproprieties commited by so-called “Christians” who misuse our faith, just as I believe that Muslims should denounce inapropriate actions committed and attrbuted to their faith. To the world at large, a Christian is a Christian is a Christian, a Muslim a muslim, etc. I, as a Christian, am not what detractors have determined by observing the worst element of those who claim to be Christian, and if I am silent about those who take and misuse that label then I have some responsibility for their continued representation on my faith. If I defend these “Christians” then my responsibility grows. The muslim world, through their silence or rationalization of the terror and violence must accept at least a part of the responsibility for the continuation of the hatred and the attacks. They claim to be the religion of peace. I do not believe that. The only real religion of peace is a belief that Jesus Christ died on the cross to pay for our sins and rose again to redeem us and to provide for us a path to reconciliation with the One True God. By their silence or rationalization of the attacks and violence they become complicit in it’s continuation, and the only solution would seem to be a Muslim rejection of the violent behavior. I personaly do not think that Islam is a religion of peace, but once again, I have never convinced anyone of anything while shouting at them, likewise I usually do not learn from those who tell me what a horrible person I am. I don’t expect any mujahideen to be listening to what I have to say anyway, but my hope would be that if a Muslim reads it and does not actively support the violent interpretations of their religion would perhaps be prodded to see from a different perspective. After all, we are our brother’s keeper.

    I was thinking that it was you who had set the tone of our conversation. Perhaps you could reserve your tea-party anger for the lefties who are tearing our country and the world apart, not for me. Sorry if I seemed a little snippy.

    The tolerance that I spoke of was the tolerance shown by Christ, who loved all people. He did not tolerate evil. I concentrate my intolerance on those that would lead others to do evil.

  8. Stop trying to turn this discussion personal. I certainly am not making judgments about your personality or emotional state, of which I know nothing and therefore will not make an ass out of myself trying to determine.

    We can’t “misuse” faith in Christ. We can be bad Christians, this is true, by not following Christ’s commands as spelled out in the Christian scriptures, but EVERYONE should denounce the wrong actions of their fellow humans, regardless of religious affiliation. The problem comes into play when the actions are only “wrong” according to certain standards but not others.

    9/11 was not wrong according to Islamic standards of jihad. It certainly was something the prophet Muhammad could have concocted had he the necessary technology. And most Muslims are not actively defending the actions of the mujahideen. They’re just not actively speaking out and demonstrating against it. And why should they?

    One general statement that sums up a major difference between Christianity and Islam is this: Christians who commit murder in the name of their faith do so in defiance of their scriptures. Muslims who commit murder in the name of their faith do so in adherence to their scriptures.

    And you are right, Islam is not a religion of peace, at least not to our understanding of the word “peace.” Sure, there can be a sort of peace under Islam, but it is a forced one under threat of persecution and violence. And I don’t think you need to convince anyone of anything regarding Islam not being a religion of peace. It is pretty evident that most Americans are not buying that lie anymore, and many of them are shouting it from rooftops themselves.

    I think you mistake love for tolerance. Love does not equal tolerance. Christ was NEVER tolerant of sin, nor was he ever tolerant of deception. (Remember Matthew 23?) Christ loves the sinner, and Christ died to save those sinners who would repent and accept him as Savior. But he does not love their sin, as you rightly said. He doesn’t love their wicked ideologies. He doesn’t love their evil deeds. And neither should we. This isn’t just about not showing compassion to the mujahid and his supporters. This is about openly condemning their belief system, openly showing our revulsion to it, and actively seeking to make them feel uncomfortable here in Western civilized society. Do you think Jesus made the Pharisees feel comfortable in his presence? I don’t think so. If I remember right, they were constantly seeking his destruction.

    Did you ever see the movie The Boondock Saints? In the beginning there was a priest (monsignor) giving a sermon, and one quote that stuck in my mind was this: “Now, we must all fear evil men. But there is another kind of evil which we must fear most, and that is the indifference of good men.”

    And out of curiousity, have you ever read C.S. Lewis’ book Mere Christianity?

  9. I have not read this book. I still do not understand your question, and guess I am too dense to figure out where exactly we are disagreeing, unless it is about your apparent belief that we should drive all Muslims from our country. I do believe that it should be the norm that those who come to our country should assimilate our customs, language, and laws into their lives rather than expect us to adopt their customs and beliefs into theirs. Ours was founded as a Christian nation and that has been the source of our strength as well as our compasion and caring. Anyone coming here should realize and celebrate that or they cannot possibly understand what our country really stands for. WE are attacked on many fronts, with the Islam threat being the most prominant now. Many groups seek to shrink and negate our proud Christian heritage by siezing upon sensational and unrepresentative isolated actions and attributing them unfairly to our Christian faith. WE, as Christians, have become lazy and allowed ourselves to be characterized as hateful and exclusivist. We have allowed our faith to be hijacked by those who would characterize our contentment and trust in Christ as smug and ignorent. We do need to stand against evil, and if we could call out the evil masquerading as Christian it would go a long way toward once more legitimizing our message to the rest of the world. If we call out the evil in others while turning a blind eye to that which masquerades as us we are branded as hypocrites and our message is devalued. As Christianity experiences a reinvigoration in many parts of the world, we here in the United States allow ourselves to be marginalized by our unwillingness or inability to live our faith. God calls us to look firstto the plank in our own eye.

    In no way am I saying that Christians are the cause of the worlds ills. We are the keepers of th light. We just need to quit covering that light and let our true nature illuminate those around us. Our willingness compromise our own values to accomodate illigitemate practices has led us to a place of disadvantage. We cannot stand to the side and say you must come here. We are compelled to go to the place where the lost dwell and form relationships of trust that we can once again lead others into the light. I understand that you may have a different view of this and I respect that, but I am led by my relationship with God, and so far I have never been led wrong when accepting His instruction. My failures have been entirely my own, and I have learned that His ways are THE ways. I have appreciated our conversation and I will check out “Mere Christianity” as I do enjoy the writings and perspectives of C.C. Lewis. (I have always intended to read it, but alas, have not combined awareness and opportunity at the same time.)

    God Bless

  10. Ah, I highly recommend reading Lewis’ book. He was a great philosophical writer, besides the wonderful Chronicles of Narnia books.

    I think what we disagree upon is the condemnation of the entire belief system of Islam. I believe we should, as a nation, condemn it and it seems like perhaps you do not.

    “…drive all Muslims from our country.” Now, that is an interesting idea. I suppose it all depends on what one thinks is most important to preserve in this country, and how one believes we must go about preserving it. What do you think is most important?

    “WE, as Christians, have become lazy and allowed ourselves to be characterized as hateful and exclusivist.”

    “Hateful and exclusivist” is just the current choice of words nonbelievers use to bash Christians. Is it a surprise that Christians are hated, especially evangelical and conservative ones who refuse to condone certain behaviors that modern society upholds as moral (such as homosexual activity and promiscuity)? Weren’t we warned that the world would hate us? And yet we continue to be the most charitable people in comparison to non-Christians in our own country and around the world. The fact of the matter is that Christians are failing to call out their fellow “Christians” who are failing to uphold the principles outlined in the Christian scriptures. Some of these fellow Christians consist of the Episcopalians and Lutherans who not only tolerate homosexual behavior but actually condone it as moral.

    American Christians have been succumbing to what European Christians have already surrendered to: liberalism.

    Even Islam is not our greatest threat but rather it has been given power by liberalism. I think it is wishful thinking to believe that most Muslims will rise up and speak out against the pro-shari’a, jihad-supporting, terrorist-financing Muslims who are seeking to (and succeeding) build mosques and proselytize their Islamic faith in America and the rest of the West. We can always hope, but it is very unlikely to happen.

    In the meantime, we need to be wise and on guard to the lies of those who secretly (and not so secretly) wish to do us harm. If that means making it very aware to everyone who immigrates here and everyone who follows the Islamic faith that Americans openly reject Islam and want nothing to do with it, so be it. It’s worked in ostracizing the KKK and pushing their white supremacy to the sidelines as an evil and unaccepted belief system. That’s why most KKK members still hide their affiliation in public. It’s not illegal to be a KKK member, and it’s not illegal to be a neo-Nazi. Our country does not persecute the KKK or neo-Nazis. But it is widely accepted by society as a whole that either affiliation is evil, wrong, and to be hated. As it should be.

    Christ be with you and thanks for the lively discussion.

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