"Peace on Earth"
Yesterday I heard a news report about something that happened during a nationally televised football game this weekend in Green Bay. As a “moment of silence” was observed in remembrance of the victims of the Paris shootings, a loud voice in the stands echoed above the hushed crowd derisively insulting “Muslims.”
While I most certainly do not condone the hateful actions of “Islamic terrorists” who perpetrate unspeakable acts of violence, I also do not at all believe that the events in Paris teach us anything about the inherent evil of the Muslim religion. If anything, I think this weekend’s acts of terrorism should give each and every one of us pause to examine violence and hatred within our own hearts before we lash out against the evil we may find in the hearts of others.
When I heard yesterday’s story about that man in the football stadium who was condemning “Muslims,” I “half-wondered” to myself whether or not that man might have been a “good Christian.” After all, over the past months there have been plenty of instances where supposedly “good Christians” have been anything but good or Christian.
I wondered if that man in the stadium might be one of the many “church-going, “God-fearing” people demanding that Mexican immigrants should be rounded up like cattle and discarded with the trash? I also wondered if that man yelling insults about violent Muslims might have been at a recent political rally attended by several “presidential contenders” during which a so-called “Christian Pastor” suggested that the time had now come for America to “cleanse” itself of our “Gay” population by passing a law that homosexuality should be punishable by death?
It’s odd to me that so many “good Christians” can see the violence and hatred in the lives of others but refuse to see their own “hardness of heart,” unable to see that when we violate the dignity of other human beings we stand against the very core of everything Jesus ever taught or believed.
In fact, when I look at the teaching in the scriptures of all the great world-wide religious traditions I always find a clear warning against walking that slippery path of judging the faults of others while failing to see one’s own sins.
Why do you see the speck in another’s eye but do not notice the log in your own?
First take the log out of your own eyes
and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of the eye of another.
The Buddha likewise taught:
The faults of others are easier to see than your own faults.
The Holy Quran also teaches:
Glad tidings to the person more concerned about his own faults
than bothering about the faults of others.
Yes, I mourn the lives of those who were so brutally slaughtered this weekend and I condemn the heinous violence and senseless killing, but I also want this time to be an occasion for me to look at what is inside me rather than condemn what is inside another. Instead of judging I want to use this time to do some serious soul-searching, to ask how I might make my own heart softer and my own life more compassionate.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a Christian pastor who was sent to a concentration camp and murdered by the Nazis during the second world war, once wrote this message from his prison cell:
By judging others we blind ourselves to our own evil.
In our own dark time in world history, I will use this occasion to take out any logs in my own eyes so that I will not be blinded to the truth.