- At the Desert Retreat House -
For the past weeks the news has been filled with dark stories about "Islamic Terrorists" who burn people alive and behead Christians. And now in Europe we have been hearing about a new wave of anti-Semitism that seems to have crept into the continent and many Jews are leaving in reportedly "record numbers" to seek safety in Israel - so much bigotry, intolerance and hatred all seemingly centered around religion, adding fuel to the fire of the argument that religious belief is and has been the source and cause of violence throughout history.
Last Saturday, a synagogue was bombed in Denmark by a so-called "Islamic terrorist," killing and wounding Jews in the congregation--reports of this atrocity flooded the news; however, my guess is that most of us won't hear about what is happening this Saturday when more than a thousand Muslims in Oslo Noway will ban together to form a "ring of peace" around a local synagogue. Candles in hand, they will surround the synagogue as their Jewish sisters and brothers gather inside to pray on the sabbath - a sign of solidarity and protection against violence.
On a Facebook page promoting this event the Muslim group explained its motivations for forming this "ring of peace":
Islam is about protecting our brothers and sisters regardless of which religion they belong to. Islam is about rising above hate and never sinking to the same level as the haters. We who are Muslim want to show that we deeply deplore all types of hatred of Jews.
In the middle of all those stories about the fringe minority of Muslims who have engaged in acts of bigotry and violence, I was very heartened to hear about this story of the ring of peace. It filled my heart with hope.
I remember something Martin Luther King once said:
Only in the darkness can you see the stars
Yes indeed there has been a lot of darkness in the events of the past weeks as the ugly face of intolerance and violence has raised its ugly head in the the form of ISIS. And then in the midst of all the deep darkness, thousands of stars came out, peace-loving Muslims surrounding a Jewish synagogue with a "ring of peace."
As I see it, stories like this happen all the time although we often don't hear about them.
Whenever darkness or terror and wanton destruction are manifested, the true quality of the human heart always shines through. There will always be terrorists, bigots and haters but at the core of the human heart is a basic decency - at our core we are people of goodwill.
So I have a reason for hope.
For me hope is not some wishful thinking that maybe things will "hopefully" get better. Hope is a sure and certain trust that ultimately the goodwill of our better angels will prevail even when the demons seem to have won the day.
I wish the news reports would show the stars when they come out in the darkness.
Listen to my podcast: "Desert Wisdom"