And that troubles me, greatly.
We have become a country of kneejerk reactions. We get caught up in emotion, and we don't want to be influenced by anything that contradicts the emotion. Once in a blue moon, as in this case, an overwhelming majority of Americans agree on a topic. We begin to think if the majority agrees, then it must be right.
But maybe we're wrong in that assumption.
- Sometimes the majority agrees because emotion carries the day, preventing a reasonable discussion of the facts.
- Sometimes the majority agrees because they are presented with superficial choices.
- Sometimes the majority agrees because it's easier than reaching difficult and painful conclusions.
- Sometimes the majority agrees because we have forgotten who we are as a nation, where we came from, and what we stand for.
Excuse me, but a former Speaker of the House of Representatives thinks the government of Saudi Arabia should set the standard for the United States of America?
As Americans, the standard for our government is set by the Constitution of the United States. A Constitution that protects all of us. A Constitution that permits freedom of worship for each and every one of us. For a former Speaker of the House to suggest that we should lower ourselves to the standard of a country that does not afford its citizens those freedoms is beyond my comprehension.
But what bothers me much more is not the constitutional issue. As a follower of Christ, the standard for me is much higher than the Constitution. The standard for me is Jesus Christ himself.
September 11 is burned into my memory, as I'm sure it is burned into yours. I watched the second plane hit the World Trade Center as I was leaving for work. I arrived at my office to learn that the Pentagon had been hit, as well. One of my coworkers had a son who was working in the Pentagon that day and it would take several agonizing hours for her to learn that her son was safe. I work at a high school, and we crowded into a storeroom in the library with teachers and staff and watched in dismay as the first building fell. I looked into the faces of our students and wondered if they had any concept of how much the world had changed that morning. I drove to church that evening for a prayer service, and as I drove, I thanked God that I didn't have children to raise in a world that could be so cruel. At the service, I was honored to light a candle for the victims of Flight 93, the plane that crashed into a Pennsylvania field. In the following days, we learned of the courage of those victims, who were determined to do everything they could to keep the hijackers from crashing the plane into another building.
I remember the pain of 9/11 vividly.
But I know that all Muslims were not responsible for that pain, just as all Christians are not responsible for the crimes of a handful of those who call themselves Christians.
I know that God calls me to love.
I know that God calls me to be a witness to a world that is lost, a world that lives in darkness.
I know that even if I believed for a minute that all Muslims were connected to the attacks on 9/11, I would be called to forgive.
Matthew 5:44 - But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.
Luke 6:27-28 - But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.
Luke 6:31 - Do unto others as you would have them do to you.
Luke 6:35 - But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men.
Luke 23:34 - Jesus said, "Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing." And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.
Christ forgave those who put Him to death, even as He was on the cross. As horrific as 9/11 was, do we think it was worse than the crucifixion of Christ?
I am humbled by Christ's words. Reading them, I can still feel the pain I felt on 9/11;.pain for those who were lost and for their families; pain for those who are still suffering nearly 9 years later. But I can't hang onto the anger. I can't hate. I can't set conditions for forgiveness.
There were actually a lot of other things I was going to say, but in the light of Christ's words, none of them matter. After all, this is blog about faith. You might disagree with my conclusion. You might think it's time for me to change the title of my blog to Single and Insane. But I hope you'll consider the words of Christ, and how they should impact the role His followers should play in any public debate, particularly one filled with such emotion.
Until next time,
P.S. - If you're still reading, here are a couple of links if you would like to read more about the Islamic center.
This is a link to Mayor Michael Bloomberg's speech that is referenced in the article above. It is an eloquent call to rise above the fray, even if the Wall Street Journal chose to call it quasi-elegant.