Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Honor Each Other

"Olive Branches"
- At the Desert Retreat House -

With all the stories about the horrific violence being perpetrated by the extremist group that calls itself the "Islamic State," it's no wonder to me that a new wave of anti-Muslim prejudice might once again rear its ugly head, especially in this country. 

This morning I heard about the murder of three college students in North Carolina who were brutally shot in the head by a deranged killer who entered their apartment. These three students were Muslims and all the initial evidence points to the probability that this was a hate-crime and they were murdered because of their religious beliefs.

While I found the story of these senseless deaths to be tragic beyond words, I found some of the comments about these murders in the various social media to be even more horrific. There were several comments commending the murderer for "doing a good job," while other comments claimed that since Muslims are killing us, it's only right that we kill Muslims in retribution. One particularly heinous comment suggested, "If every American would make it a point to kill at least 3 Muslims, the world would be a better place today."  My guess is that many of these comments came from people who considered themselves good patriots, many perhaps seeing themselves as good Christians.

It's enough to make me weep.

Many years ago, on the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist bombings, the people of the church I was serving and the people of the local mosque decided to worship together, share a common meal and enjoy one another's company. Some of us (myself included) weren't exactly sure how this would  all work out - Islam was a fairly "foreign" religion and few of us knew any Muslims. 

As it turned out, all  those fears and apprehensions quickly melted away as we met face to face, prayed together, ate together, talked and laughed together. We found out that we were all very much like one another - all people of goodwill who followed a "way" of compassion and we all wanted to live in a world of justice and peace.

The Buddha taught:

All beings tremble before violence. All fear death. All love life.
See yourself in others.
Then whom can you hurt? What harm can you do?

As I see it, concluding that the violent acts of extreme "Islamic" terrorists are emblematic of Islam in general is just as preposterous as thinking that Ku-Klux clan lynchings and "cross-burnings" are emblematic of Christianity in general. And anyone who thinks that killing Muslims is even remotely connected with following Jesus has seriously deceived themselves.

There is a passage from the "Holy Quran" that I am holding up before me on this day:

O Mankind, you have been made from male and female 
and formed into tribes and nations so that
you may honor each other
and not despise one another. 

Listen to my weekly podcast: "Desert Wisdom"

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