8.28.2009

What's in a name?

Faith: believing in things unseen. It is understanding that even though you can't see it, it's there. It is most often applied to a religion or a higher power, deity, Supreme Being, if you will. Even "atheists" have faith - they have faith that there is no god. Or something like that... ;)

Here's the thing: Judaism, Islam & Christianity are brother religions. They are considered the "Abrahamic Religions" because they are derived from the tribes of Abraham. Muhammad sought to "purify" Judaism/Christianity and thus felt compelled to establish Islam. Christ taught us how to love one another, so those who follow him are Christians. Those who believe that Christ is not the Messiah and that the New Testament is not part of the Bible are Jewish. They all have the same God; they just use different names.

Terrorism: generally defined as "a strategy of violence designed to promote desired outcomes by instilling fear in the public at large. Public intimidation is a key element that distinguishes terrorist violence from other forms of violence (Bandura, Albert, 1986 - found in Origins of Terrorism, Ed. Walter Reich)." Basically, what Albert is saying is that terrorists are people who incite fear in citizens in order to promote their agenda. It says nothing about their faith practice. Hm...interesting.

If that's the case, then why do we only speak of "terrorists" when referring to Al-Qaeda, Al-Qaeda in Iraq (they're two separate entities), the Taliban, etc.? Have we forgotten about the Irish Republican Army (IRA - who claim no common religious affiliation), the Ku Klux Klan (who are Christians, supposedly), the Tamil Tigers (also without religious affiliation - but big on child soldiers), and the list goes on... [NOTE: They do not list the KKK as a terrorist organization, however, their actions do align with those of the standard definition of a terrorist group - they incite fear in citizens (via burning crosses, threatening lives of minority groups, aligning with the Aryan Brotherhood, calling for the "purification" of the country - meaning whites only), they use force to get their point across, furthermore, they feel as though their motives are morally justified.] HERE is the European Union list of "terrorists" and "terrorist organizations."

So...back to the original question: if because some Muslims are terrorists, that means that they all are; does this also mean that because some Christians are terrorists, that all of them are too? Why must we generalize? Remember: a "terrorist" is someone who purposefully incites fear in citizens in order to gain power and purpose. This definition does not exclude those who are not religiously motivated. Why do we insist on excluding them? [Now, please don't misinterpret this as me "condoning" terrorism. I am not, in the slightest, doing that. However, I am saying that there needs to be less generalization and more understanding of the impact that our words have on others.]

Tolerance is a difficult concept for most people to grasp. However, without tolerance, where are we? We are simply human beings (hee hee Human Beans - I love the BFG!) battling with one another about who is best. If the far right is so dead set on bringing "Christian values" back into society - let's focus on the most important one - "love one another as I have loved you (John 13:34b)." Christ didn't care if you were diseased (lepers!!), poor, rich, ugly, beautiful, or multi-colored. He cared that you were human and deserved to be treated fairly. So why not love one another as we wish to be loved? Let's try it out sometime and see how it works.

They say you get more bees with honey than vinegar...

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