Tag Archives: Islam

We Should Be Nice

My friend asked me to help her with a research paper. The topic is whether or not the U.S. should welcome Syrian refugees into our borders. I told her that I don’t know a lot of the details, and honestly, I don’t know the extent of the dangers that this could cause. All I know is that I am 200% for helping these people. All I can give right now is a moralistic argument, but here it is.

A lot of people in this country don’t want to let refugees into our borders for one reason: they’re scared. They are afraid that potential terrorists are hiding among the people who honestly just need a safe place to go. One argument I have repeatedly heard in favor of admitting the refugees is that their situation appears very similar to that of the Jews during World War 2. The counter argument is that it is actually a very different situation because the Jews were a clearly defined, and clearly innocent group of people. It would be absurd to expect any of them to do anything violent and troublesome. However, I think many who are opposed to bringing in any refugees forget that the majority of these people really are innocent. We can’t lock the doors to all of them just because some of them might be bad. We must help the innocent and needy. We need a proper and effective screening process that is also efficient so that we can get these people into a stable situation as soon as possible.

While there is and always will be a threat of terrorists sneaking in among the refugees, we have to remember that it really isn’t all that difficult for ISIS to influence American citizens to do their work for them. They target isolated and marginalized people who are seeking an outlet to express their frustration. Many isolated people simply want to belong to something, and if they are convinced that they are important to a holy war, and that they will be greatly rewarded, they may and have been led to do horrible, violent things. These could be French, English, or American citizens who feel that they belong nowhere else and that they can succeed at nothing else. ISIS recruits these people through commonly used social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, and through other less known outlets as well. They have people who are very technologically savvy and can communicate and transfer funds and information across the globe without being detected via the dark web (a closed system that avoids using sites that are detectable by search engines–for more information on the dark web, go here: Dark Web). So while there is a danger of radicalized Syrians coming into our country, there is always a danger of ISIS radicalizing our own people.

Lastly, the U.S. has seen a lot of violent crimes perpetrated by American citizens. Young American people who are frustrated with life go into schools and movie theaters what seems like several times a year sometimes, and kill as many people as they can. While we don’t know their motives, we have to realize that this is a result of isolation. People who have healthy relationships, stable home lives, and a network of support to help with any mental health problems they may have, don’t do these things. It is the people who are neglected and ignored who end up resorting to violence. In this situation, we can all take some of the blame. Our citizens simply don’t want to deal with these people because we’re too busy or because we don’t want to get into an uncomfortable situation, our government doesn’t help because they don’t have enough money, or because they don’t know how, and our religious institutions, Christian, Muslim, or whatever else, don’t get involved because of the complicated theological and existential implications, and because their leaders are inadequately trained to deal with these kinds of issues. Refusing to accept refugees is not going to stop violent crime in this country.

The ultimate solution to our problem is to be careful, but also to be loving. We can increase productivity and the overall happiness of our people, including those we help from other countries, by developing a more inclusive, more caring society. Ultimately what will solve our problem is a change within ourselves. We need to be willing to do two things: get over our fear, and sacrifice a little of our time. We can be kind and loving while still being practical, but we need to be intentional about it. We need to make conscious choices about how we act toward every other person. I’ve had this conversation with my dad over and over: if we could just show our enemies how prosperous our nation is and how happy our people are overall, we might change their minds about us. Our country was built by immigrants and refugees. By not helping our Syrian friends, we are proving our enemies right about us.

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!I

Advertisements

Hey, Terrorists

Hey, terrorists. I want to talk to you. My name’s Katie, and you know what? I’m Christian. Guess what else? I graduated college. I’m writing a book, and I’ve got paid money to be on stage and play music for people. I bet you hate that. You know what the best part is? I’m not afraid of you. You probably see me as broken. You see me as an infidel, and there is no doubt in my mind that you would kill me if we crossed paths on the wrong day. I don’t hate you, though. I am angry with you, but I don’t hate you. In some ways I feel bad for you.

You don’t know my God, so you don’t know love. You’ve never known freedom. You’ve never known peace. Your lives revolve around war. All you want to do is kill people for your insane deity. I have a secret for you. Freedom and peace come when people can accept each other’s differences and get along. You are my enemies. You made that clear when you started attacking and killing my fellow Christians in Syria and Iraq and other places, and later when you made me worry for the safety of my friends in France. I don’t hate you. My God told me to love my enemies. My God told me to pray for my enemies, so I’ve been praying for you.

I’ve been praying that you would change. I’ve been praying that you would know the love and joy that you would find in the presence of my God. Your god is distant. Your god demands death and destruction, and your god will never be satisfied. My God loved you before you were born. My God loves you now, and my God will love you no matter what. He made you in his image. He made you in the image of love. That’s what he wants you to do. He wants you to love. He doesn’t want you to destroy. He wants you to show kindness to those you disagree with. He wants you to help the people who have nothing. He wants you to repent and give him the glory he deserves. Only love can create a perfect world, not your so-called holy war. Just stop. Just give it up. Isn’t that easier? No one else has to fight. No one else has to die. No one ever has to be alone ever again.

You call your fighters martyrs. You’re not dying for your god. You’re dying for your own ego. You’re dying because your leaders told you to. The real martyrs are the Christians you’re killing for believing in love. You can’t possibly be devoid of love or remorse. There must be a part of you that knows this is wrong. You are human. If nothing else, that makes us family. You are my family, and I will not hate you. Like me you have a family. Like me you were once a silly, imaginative child. Like me you must have someone or something that you love. Like me you believe in a greater purpose. We are a lot more alike than you would ever like to admit, I know. I bet if you and I sat down to coffee one day we’d find something interesting to talk about. I bet we could have a civilized conversation. Isn’t that easier? Doesn’t that sound nice? Stop fighting. Just think about it.

 

Getting Tired Of This

Is anyone else getting tired of hearing about ISIS? I just read a report talking about another attack on several Christian villages that took place yesterday. ISIS is scary because they are making progress. They are accomplishing their goals. They are successfully conducting attacks on innocent people, destroying entire villages and getting away with it. It absolutely baffles me that the U.S., or anyone for that matter isn’t doing more to stop them.

I know that we’re all tired of war. I personally believe that war is fundamentally wrong. However, there comes a point where we have a moral obligation to defend our brothers and sisters. When I say that they are our brothers and sisters, I don’t mean to sound churchy. I mean that they; that we are all members of the human family. We are all connected, and even though we are far away, we have a responsibility to and for them. Furthermore, it is not simply the innocents who are our family. The members of ISIS are also our family, whether we like it or not.

I do not advocate violence; I do not advocate revenge or active retaliation. I advocate defense, and I advocate prayer. Ultimately, if we cannot physically be there to defend our family, we must pray for them. We must spread the word and let the world know what is happening. We must pray for our enemies, as well as our friends. We must educate and defend the vulnerable in our own country. We must spread love in any way we can so that in the future this does not happen.

We must not hate them because they are violent. We must not hate them because we do not understand them. Though it is difficult, we must pity them and pray for them because they do not know love.

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!

The attack on the magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris really hit home for me. My family has a few friends who live in Normandy, and for a little while we were really worried about their safety. Maybe it would have been less concerning if the terrorists hadn’t seemed so well trained and professional. For a while I was sure that they were going to get away, and who knows what they would have done next. Secondly, Paris is a big, modern city in a first world country with good intelligence and security in place. How were these terrorists able to do this completely under the radar? Apparently they had records and (as far as I know) were on a U.S. no-fly list. Shouldn’t they have been watched a little more closely? Lastly, it just seems to me that France is so close to home: just across the pond, as it were.

I know where France is. I can easily find it on a world map. I know things about their culture and history. My brother has been there, and we’re planning on going there as a family in June. Therefore, it’s more meaningful to me when something like this happens there. When something really terrible happens in Iraq or Syria, it does trouble me. People get hurt; people needlessly suffer; Christians are persecuted and killed, and that really is a personal issue for me. However, I don’t know much about Iraq or Syria. I don’t know their culture or history, and I probably couldn’t find them on a map. They seem far away, and the danger and the impact seem less immediate.

I was amazed to hear that several million people marched together in Paris in solidarity with the victims of the attack. World leaders put aside their differences for a little while to show their support for France and for freedom. “Je Suis Charlie” (I am Charlie) became a common theme. Charlie Habdo stood for freedom of speech. They published satire that in many cases was downright offensive, and they did it intentionally and to everyone. Honestly, I haven’t read their material, partly because it would take me forever (I can barely read French), but I know they have said and portrayed some nasty things about Jesus, and I know that if I did read it, it would probably make me angry. It bothers me when people use my God as a punchline.

However, what Charlie Habdo does is different. They do it to everyone, and they don’t do it out of spite (at least it doesn’t seem that way). While some, or much of what they do might be tasteless, I think the point that they are trying to make is that no one is perfect, no religion is perfect, and we all can and should take a step back and laugh at ourselves from time to time. That being said, I personally feel that intentionally offending anyone is wrong on a fundamental level. I also think that publishing offensive cartoons of Muhammad, in particular, was asking for trouble. I don’t know much about Islam. However, I do know that it tends to lead some people to violence. This is a well-known fact, and they should have taken this into account. The thought process seems to have been: let’s do this and see what trouble we can stir up. Most of the time this is just obnoxious, occasionally funny, and harmless. However, it seems that just because you have the freedom to do something doesn’t mean you should. There are certain people who just aren’t worth pissing off.

On a side note, my friend brought up a good point the other day: asking moderate Muslims to take responsibility for this kind of terrorism is kind of like asking me to take responsibility for the Crusades, or for people like the Westboro Baptists: something I refuse to do. I want nothing to do with these kinds of people, and it shames me that, because I am called Christian, someone who doesn’t know me might assume that I am like them. In my mind they are not Christian, and in theirs I probably am not. The same kind of thinking must apply to Muslims (I assume). However, no one is saying anything.  Granted, this happens in the Church sometimes as well: that a priest does something morally wrong and no one says anything or everyone tries to keep it a secret. However, what these terrorists did is not a secret, and no one has said anything. I would assume that doing this kind of thing under an Islamic flag must make people angry, but no one has said that this is not Islam. It paints a very bad picture of Muslims, but no one has said “This is not us.”

Ultimately, it comes down to this: two wrongs don’t make a right. Violence is never the answer. Ever. End of story. Charlie Habdo is offensive and blasphemous, and I support their right to be so. I support everyone’s right to be so. I would prefer that no one was, but I would never hurt someone over it. I just don’t watch or read things that I know will offend me. I can ask people not to say blasphemous things around me, but I can’t monitor what they say and think 24/7, and I don’t want to. There are peaceful ways of denouncing or protesting blasphemy. One can write about and against it. One can get a group of people together to peacefully and visually protest it. One can create art that glorifies love, glorifies peace, and most importantly, glorifies God. One can teach.

What we have to remember is that people died in this attack. people who we may disagree with on a fundamental level lost their lives. They should be mourned; they should be remembered; they should be prayed for. On some spiritual level, yeah, they might be “the enemy,” and, like us, they are children of God.

“But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”

Because in my world guinea pigs can fly!