Tuesday, April 30, 2013
I am a Christian.
I am an American.
I am a Caucasian.
Those three statements alone are enough for most people to (at least start to) form an opinion on who I am and what I am like. Taken to an irrational end, it becomes xenophobia, a fear or hatred of someone or something different from oneself.
Race, nationality and religion are but three of the categories into which people try to pigeonhole one another in order to create an "us" and "them" atmosphere.
I remember a festival in Salt Lake City called "Living Traditions". My mother and brother were part of a Swiss Chorus that performed each year. After that performance, for 2.5 days we enjoyed the music, dance, crafts and foods of groups from all over the world, many of which we experienced at no other time of year. That's what made it so great.
But like most things, differences can be used for evil ends as well. I know this will bring some negative comments but I've got to say it. The religion professed by the 9-11 terrorists was Islam. I say 'professed by' because it is my belief that these men used the claim of being Islamic to garner support from people who are xenophobic about things that are not Islamic. Does this mean that all Muslims are terrorists. No!
I know a number of people (some in my own family) do not agree with a mosque being built near 'ground zero' in NYC; I do not understand their objection. Islam did not commit that horrible event; a group of terrorists claiming to be Muslims were responsible. Can we in good faith and with justice punish a whole group for the actions of a few?
Yes, I am Christian; I also have friends with a wide array of beliefs.
Yes, I am an American; I also have friends all over the world.
Yes, I am white; I also do not pick my friends and associates by the color of their skin.