As I get older and my experience in the world deepens, I’m seeing with some new eyes. A myriad of circumstances and people have brought about this change, but having always lived in an urban environment and moving from a culturally diverse part of the world has played a big part in this. I’ve come to understand the importance of listening. I tend to throw my opinion around pretty loosely and I’ve had to make some major changes in my approach to life in order to become a better learner of The Way and neighbor. Hearing the stories, dreams, pains, and injustices in the lives around me has allowed me to mature as a Christian.
There’s a worldview out there that says that anyone who does not agree with a particular belief system is the enemy. Anyone who does not fall in line and worship at a specific alter is a threat to everyone else. People who worship different Gods. People who have different social practices. People who choose different sexual expression. To many, these people are not seen as neighbors and fellow humans striving after goodness- but objects hate and place blame. When I hear Sarah Palin and John McCain lash out about Senator Obama’s relationship to terrorists, I’m reminded of the Pharisees who criticized Jesus for hanging with prostitutes and tax collectors. Obama is no Jesus, but the point remains the same. It is as though they are saying that those who act in certain ways are less human and dignified, isn’t it? There are some humans not worth listening to. This is an anti-Jesus idea. We should listen to our “enemies.” Wasn’t Judas Iscariot a terrorist? Jesus washed his feet too. We should seek reconciliation and make peace. The scriptures call us to love those who hate us, but if I’m not willing to extend a hand (or perhaps a towel and basin), how could this ever take place?
I think there are deep societal wounds that exist in the world that are fueling hate and war. We don’t understand each other- and we are always fearful of what we don’t know. I love that Obama is “pals” with a man who others consider a terrorist. I hope he extends to same hand to leaders in North Korea, Iran, the Taliban, and others who are considered enemies of America. This is not to say that we accept the actions of everyone, but to not listen and extend a hand is not the way of peace.
No politician will ever bring about this deep societal change- I believe this starts with individuals making the decision to put aside themselves and demonstrate great acts of love for those that seem different from them.
Another world is not just possible, but necessary.
I think more of us should practice this. Perhaps if we got to know more “terrorists” they wouldn’t be “terrorists” anymore. I think someone else said something like that a long time ago. Something about hanging out with outcasts and sinners? Something about loving those who hate you?
I vote for the guy who loves terrorists.