Recently an online discussion that I was participating in turned into a discussion about terrorism. What sometimes happens with this subject is people will begin to express outrage at Muslim radicalists. While that may be appropriate, especially given that horrific events have occurred at the hands of Muslim radicalists, unfortunately sometimes people generalize to the Muslim faith and its followers as a whole. I'm not a contentious person by nature (than why is this blog called a rant? you might wonder) but, I recognize the need to stand up for what is right. I wrote what I thought was a carefully crafted reply expressing no desire to step on any one's toes but wanting to make sure people knew that I believed throwing the entire Muslim faith under the bus was unacceptable. It turned out the vast majority of the responses to my response were positive and appreciative. In fact there was only one respondent who seemed to get a little riled by it. The response from this person seemed well meaning (they said "with all due respect":) but their message back to me was "do some research."
I didn't really dwell on it much, but I did wonder what research was I supposed to do. The responder had apparently not thought my having lived in the Middle East was sufficient research. I am aware that the research suggested was likely supposed to be directed at studying radical Islam and their distortions and to study the terrorists’ cells that exist around the world, including in our own country.
Honestly, I am aware of these things. Let me state here unequivocally that I detest, despise and wholeheartedly reject and condemn terrorism in any form, and particularly when it disguises its vileness with religious distortion. Few things would please me more than the rooting out of terrorism in this world. I absolutely know the reality of terrorism. I have etched in my memory places and faces that have been impacted, even destroyed by this evil. My research has included seeing attacks on cities and people that I love. More knowledge would not increase my loathing, I'm already there.
Terrorism thrives off of hate. That is their high priced commodity. The price is high, because it destroys so many. So well practiced at their salesmanship of hate are the terrorists that they are able to convince many to actually commit suicide, taking out as many objects of their hatred as possible. What twisted logic promotes such vile behavior? Hate may be the commodity but power is the goal. There are a few power hungry leaders who know the power of hate and thus enlist it to manipulate for their own agenda. They disguise their power-thirst and hate in a shroud of religion, but it doesn't hide who they really are, maniacs driven by all things evil.
They proselyte hate, and the numbers of their followers is devastating to calculate. I fully support the efforts to rid this planet of this vermin. I hold out hope that there can be some redemption for the followers who have hearts remaining, but too many, it seems, are too far gone.
One way in which they seek to have power over us is in our own emotional responses to their behavior. They try to make us feel terror. They in fact try to inspire hatred in us. If they can make us hate them back than they have engaged us in their twisted view of a holy war and it becomes easier for them to breed more hatred on their own side.
I unequivocally state that on this matter I will not yield. I refuse to bend to their will of hating other people. I refuse to generalize their twisted view into condemning and hating an entire religion.
I have, in that regard, a secret weapon, its called perspective. My life has been blessed with experiences with many of the Muslim faith. And while I don't think those experiences give me special powers or anything; I do think they have shaped my perspective. When I think of Muslims I don't first think of terrorism. I see people. I see shopkeepers earning a living to support their families (and by the way I was terrible at bargaining, so I'm happy to say I helped them out more than I might otherwise have done). I recall conversations laughing at shared experiences and common ground. I recall walking through a Palestinian refugee camp where we were happily greeted. I see the interrupted soccer game when the kids previously playing decided to walk us down the streets of their little city and then invited us into one of their homes.
I remember the cute family that was walking ahead of me down a street in the Palestinian side of Jerusalem. I see the son turn around and smile and remember realizing he was the spitting image of my own brother, though with darker skin and hair. I think maybe that experience sums it up best. When I think of Muslims I see my brother. I see my sister. I see my family. I summarily refuse to feel anything but love and appreciation for my family.
In fact my anger at terrorists is compounded by the anger I feel towards them for what they have done to Islam. They've tainted the faith. It despicable.
I implore others to not give in to the desires of the terrorists. Do not give in to hate. By all means, by every means, we must stand up against terrorism and radical Islam. We must learn who they are, and where they are and what they are doing. But, that does not mean casting out the Muslim faith and all its followers. Do not let yourself become tainted. Love our brothers and sisters, for that is truly who we all are. Peace and love are more powerful and will in the end overcome. Never yield the sacred ground of your heart to the hatred of your fellow man.