This week saw the horror of terrorism on the streets of France. Today, we saw a city united in strength of resolve to stand against terrorism, against fear, against violence and for the freedom of speech and thought. http://instagram.com/p/xuVtR5HRDU/ #JeSuisCharlie pic.twitter.com/nsPjn7MVLj
No doubt while many seek to work for an inclusive peaceful society, there will still be the scaremongerers, especially those with a axe to grind, those who fear equality, those who require that their version of reality is the version that is played out.
The trouble with forcing views on others, is that it simply doesn't work, and for me that is the essential appeal of Christianity. I am not talking about some of the abuses everyone knows about in the history of Christianity, rather I am talking about the radical message that Jesus brought to the 1st Century. To a Roman Empire that new nothing of the concept of mercy, he spoke of loving our enemy. He promoted non violence, something that Martin of Tours in the 4th Century clearly understood. He is quoted as saying" I am Christ's soldier, I am not allowed to fight". We are left then with words and thoughts, with which to argue against radical extremism that has become warped into a orgy of violence. We cannot force islamic extremists to put down there weapons, if we do we run the risk of producing more like minded people who see murder as the only way of getting their way.
How then do we make for safe societies. In the 1st Century, Christians risked their life for just reading letters by Paul that to the Roman authorities were dangerously inflammatory, because they talked about equality, undermining the societal framework on which the rich and powerful had developed their society - the one where they were very comfortable thank you -. Despite that the first 2-3 Centuries were the period of sustained growth in the Church, when it held to the beliefs of its founder and was seen as salt in the world.
Creating dialogue between communities of faith and with communities of no faith will help people see others as people, not demons or terrorists or infidels. If we see each other as people perhaps we can learn to love one another instead of fearing one another.
Can we do this?