I was assaulted today after picking up my elder son from a school dance with the news of the terror attacks in Paris today. These acts of violence are abhorrent and tragic, and the loss of life is both unimaginable and familiar. The world shouldn’t be like this. And it is.
I feel equally disgusted and grieved. I can’t believe that people could do this to one another.
And as I experienced this flood of emotion, I began to see some of the emotional responses come through social media. To me, some of the responses were nearly as tragic and nearly as violent.
No, there was no loss of life in these angry responses. Even so, they were filled with hatred – and hatred erodes. They were filled with fear – and fear corrupts. They were filled with blame – and blame incites.
And as a person of faith – indeed as a Christian – I choose to advocate for peace on all sides. When those who are victims of violence choose to respond in the same way, it is not peace. And it’s un-Christian.
Jesus teaches his followers to turn the other cheek. Jesus teaches his followers to love first beyond all thought of self. Jesus teaches that our hateful words show the fear and loathing in our hearts, and it is this that contaminates us in God’s sight.
“It’s not what goes into the mouth that contaminates a person in God’s sight. It’s what comes out of the mouth that contaminates the person.” Matthew 15:11 (CEB)
Let’s imagine for a moment that the perpetrators of these evil acts thought they were doing so under the command of a higher power – not unlikely as what appears to be a high percentage of terrorism committed by Muslim extremists.
But here’s the thing. Islam is not a violent faith. It is those who twist it into something else that commit this violence. And those who respond to this evil with violence are just as guilty, just as profane, and just as contaminated.
Let us – whether we identify as Christian or Atheist or Muslim or Jewish or Pagan or Hindu or Buddhist or anything else – let us stand for peace. Let us stand for love. Let us shine as beacons of light and hope.
That’s how people will know who we are: by the way that we show love.