|Can Americans affect the new violence in Iraq?|
Letter to the Editor:
In our globalized world, we are connected to every nation on the globe technologically and economically. Through the technological connection, we are also affected politically by events and crises elsewhere in the world.
The relentless advance of ISIS across western Iraq and now nearing Baghdad is not something any American can ignore. So much Iraqi and American blood has been spilt over the last decade that we desperately hope there is something we can do. But what? ISIS is a formidable force, one that even American drones and missiles may not be able to stop.The White House and the U.S. military, of course, are hastily seeking ways to stem the violence in Iraq before it leads to a larger regional war. However, politicians are not the only ones concerned by the news from Iraq. Peace and Interfaith organizations in the United States know that religious violence elsewhere in the world intensifies religious bigotry and fear here at home. A case in point is the minister from Georgia who is running for Congress on the platform that Islam is a false religion. Surely, it is more than a coincidence that such blatant religious ignorance is occurring while sectarian violence from Iraq is exploding.
When peace and interfaith advocates in the United States take the news from Iraq as a call to action, responding by gathering publically as Buddhists, Muslims, Jews, Christians, Hindus, Sikhs, and Humanists, something very significant happens in our fearful world. In these gatherings, the observing world is shown a different and positive side of religion, one where people of faith offer compassion and build bridges of understanding rather than walls of fear and hatred.
We are one human family. As the suffering of the people in Iraq affects us, so what we do here in response to the Iraqi crisis also affects the world. Every time we stand together as people of faith, the fulcrum moves an inch at a time in the direction of peace.
In early July, four peace and interfaith organizations in Indiana and Wisconsin will be doing just that — standing shoulder to shoulder to declare that the future of religion will be one where faith communities build bridges of understanding.
There is no denying that the impact of four organizations will have minimal impact on the crisis in Iraq. But what happens the next time if there are forty such public events in different parts of the country, or four hundred, or eventually four thousand around the world? When that occurs, the fulcrum will really begin to shift. The same media that carries the latest atrocities from Iraq’s sectarian conflict will not be able to ignore this response of hope and commitment.
And one day, may that day be soon, even those fighting in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, and elsewhere will realize that a different future for religions is possible. When that day comes, the fulcrum will have shifted so far that those standing together for peace and interfaith understanding will finally “lift” the heavy weight of religious terrorism.
Let us not lose hope; let us dedicate ourselves to move the fulcrum on the teeter-totter an inch at a time.
Editor’s note: David Carlson is professor of religious studies at Franklin College in Indianapolis, Ind. He and his wife, Kathy, spend summers in Three Lakes. He will give a presentation on this topic at Many Ways of Peace, 217 S. Main St., in downtown Eagle River, Monday, July 7, at 7 p.m.
|Tuesday, July 01, 2014 10:41 AM|