Monday, November 16, 2015

A World at War and the Search for Peace

All about us we see, a world at war. Oh not massive armies in combat. Skirmishes, terrorist attacks, civil wars. Displaced persons become the other. We have at seemingly unprecedented levels found ways to divide ourselves against one another.

I cry for the people killed in Paris, in Beirut, in Kenya, in Ukraine, in Somalia, the list goes on and on. Yesterday the pastor (Elaine Tenbrink) at my church spoke to this. She related a story she heard of a young Palestinian girl, out after curfew when two IDF soldiers approached. Beneath the car she hid shaking. But then she did a remarkable thing. She began to focus on how those soldiers were feeling. Didn't they want to go home safe as well? In doing so, she tapped into that strand that connects us all. We all feel fear, suffer, etc. By opening ourselves to the universal humanity we share, by practicing deep empathy, there is healing.

You know, there is nothing new under the sun. Civilizations have been under crisis before, life has become insecure, and yes some of those societies have ultimately failed. We so often respond by building higher walls, employing more military, surrounding ourselves with a false sense of security. Then that sense vanishes when mass killings or destruction happen anyway. The responses out there have been interesting. Blame the Muslims. Not just these Muslims. All of them. Stop all immigration and try to contain them in the cesspools of death and destruction where they are currently fleeing. What a terribly NON HUMAN thing to do. Some decried that if only everyone in Paris had been armed then it might have been different. Some blamed Obama, because, well why not. Why did we make a major thing of it happening in Paris but not when it happened in Beirut or Kenya? Racism? Probably so, but yet another divide in a terribly fractured world. Take a map and mark every place where conflict currently exists. Yes, the world is at war, turning inward and eating it's own.

So where do we turn? For me, I try to remember the one common thread held by all world religions. Not the orthodoxy but the core message each one offers in it's own way. It's the law of compassion. Do unto others, phrased in countless ways. From our imperfection, from our struggles in this uncertain times grows empathy, and from that the capacity to see our common humanity, complete with fear, pain, and imperfection.

I hasten to add, I'm not talking about letting people off who commit such horrors. If you kill a theater filled with people, there's a price that must be paid. Justice is important. What I am saying is, don't blame it on Islam, a population well over a billion people. It's not the fault of the conservatives or the liberals or any other group that becomes easy to lump them into. A Christian blew up the Federal Building in Oklahoma City but to the blame it all on Christians is insanity. Yet I've seen that too.

Our politicians do not serve us well. They thrive on division and creating "the other." Perhaps the people will reach the point where they simply say no more. We aren't there yet. My prayer, that it happens sooner rather than later. Meanwhile, as the hymn sings, "Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me. It's not Je suis Paris or Je suis Beirut.It's Je Suis humanite'.

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