Tag Archives: Peace

We Stand Together

18946991_10213047198957274_893548281_o.jpgAt this point in time, after so many terror attacks around the world in recent years, my initial reaction to the attack in London last night was somewhat muted and reserved. I was not surprised that it had happened; yet I was nevertheless deeply distressed that innocent people would be so brutally assaulted. The three attackers, their identities as of yet unannounced by the Metropolitan Police, will spend eternity lapping in the seas of ignominy, far from the verdant peaceful halls of rest that they may wished to have known.

They died attacking innocents; their last actions in this life were in the spirit of chaos. With all that said, they were still human, and as a Christian I believe they, like the rest of us, were made in the image and likeness of God. So, as time passes and I think on their final acts, I will be helpless but to consider them as humans, like the rest of us, and so mourn their poor decisions and pray for their souls, that eventually they, and their victims, might find peace.

We are all human; we all start our lives with that one equalising factor. If terrorists, warlords, and fearmongers seek to divide us, we must constantly remember what unites us. For the sake of our future we must stand together. In the wake of the latest attack we have a choice: to retaliate with ever increasing violence and terror, or to stand taller and remain above their cowardly and weak tactics. When they offer war we must offer peace. When they taunt us towards destroying all they know and love, we must not validate their evil by doing so.

Our societies and governments are founded upon the basic principles of constitutionalism. They are built on the principle that no one should be above the law. Justice is the rudder of our ship of state. Every time we treat anyone as less than their rightful station, every time we jump to conclusions about a person without facts or evidence, every time we respond to terror with terror, baying for blood, we undermine that omnipresent principle of justice for all. After all, once we begin to look out from beneath our blinders and consider the people around us, we will surely see another human being with feelings and hopes, with dreams and desires not unlike our own.

I did not know the men who attacked the crowds on London Bridge or in Borough Market. As of the time of publication the police have not released their names. Nor did I know the seven people whom they killed. I do not know what they were like, what they dreamed about at night, who they loved, or what their favourite things were. What I do know however is that they were all humans like me.

In my culture the golden rule is to treat others as you would want to be treated, and while these attackers certainly did not do that, how can I stand by that rule without seeing them as humans. Sure they were flawed, after all what they did is reprehensible to the highest degree, but all the same they were human. I hope that all involved, perpetrators and victims alike can find peace in this life or in the next. At the end of the day if we want the terror to cease, we must stand together as one common humanity. We must be the change, the light that will douse the darkness. The day we cease to preach and live love is the day we give in to terror and chaos.

Everyone Has a Place in the House of God

Courtesy of WCLKPhoto: WCLK-FM.
This evening while driving across Kansas on the way to a cousin’s graduation in Hays, I took the opportunity to listen to one of my favourite works of sacred music, Wynton Marsalis’ Abyssinian Mass. Performed by the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, led by Marsalis himself, and Le Chorale Chateau, conducted by Damian Sneed, the Abyssinian Mass is a thrillingly poignant work of sacred devotion to God.

One particular element of the Abyssinian Mass that stands out from most other Mass settings is the inclusion of a sermon, a lesson, taught by the minister at the Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem. The message, and following hymn, is simple: everyone has a place in the House of God. Everyone.

I have not written much on my faith of late in part out of my own annoyance for the obnoxiously vocal religious right in my own country and elsewhere around the globe. Those who preach a gospel of hate and hellfire give religion a bad name. My faith is founded on the belief, as a Catholic, that the Divine is inherently good and loving; that all evil exists solely out of the gift of free will, and the subsequent misguided decisions made by a variety of actors over the ages.

Yet though a Catholic I find that I cannot help but accept, and encourage those practises and beliefs in other traditions which are also founded on this same positive outlook on the Divine, this same understanding that God is Love. As this Protestant minister said, and as the choir sang, “Everyone has a place in the House of God!” Yes, yes, yes!

So then, I must beg the question, if all of us have a place in the House of God, if we share even this sole beautiful inheritance, then why do we constantly seek to find those things which divide us? Why do we continue to argue that one group, one people is greater than another? Why do we constantly stab ourselves in the back with jealousy, deceit, fear, and overthinking when we could be so kind to each other?

I say we try it out, we try being nice to one another. It may be a small thing, it may even be mildly unrealistic, but you never know it might just work.