"Can't we just all get along?" Rodney King

I just don’t get it and I’m going to need your help to understand the tangled mess that has been created by both sides. The only thing that is clear to me right now is that both sides are wrong in different ways.

Both sides profess that their actions are based on ideology. But I find it hard to believe that ANY God would ask a person to show intolerance or hatred towards another group with opposing views or beliefs.

On the one hand you have a Christian pastor, Terry Jones, who a few weeks back after many threats, decided that he was going to move forward with his plans to burn a copy of the Koran. A world away in Mazar-i Sharif, Afghanistan, in response to Jones’ act, Muslims stormed the U.N. office and killed seven U.N. employees. Since then, violent riots have erupted all across the Muslim world have resulted in dozens more deaths, injuries and continued civil unrest.

Part of me says, “It’s paper!” The book itself is a tangible thing that can be replaced. It is the doctrine that matters, not the object. Certainly no one needs to die, especially not innocent people, because someone burned papers.

But another part of me says that even though I don’t condone the violence and I think the reaction is harsh, I can respect the fact that Muslims consider this sacreligious and an abomination to their beliefs. Jones did this to solicit this exact reaction.

Jones is an attention seeking zealot whose beliefs are based solely on the doctrine of egotism and self-aggrandizement. I loathe the fact that one man can cause such chaos and subvert the lives of so many people with a single callous act and takes no responsibility for that action.

I’m confounded by the Muslim reaction, but I’m even more bemused with Jones’ lack of empathy, his audacity and outright disregard for human life, especially when he proclaims that he is doing God’s will.

No amount of goading gives any religion or person the right to kill, maim and destroy another person or group in the name of religious persecution. It’s the classic, “I did this because he/she hurt my feelings” drama you’ve seen replayed over and over again on grade school playgrounds.

And even after putting a lot of thought into the matter, chewing on it repeatedly like a cow does its cud, I still don’t know the answer to this quandry: Why do you believe that your God is asking you to kill in His name?

My confusion can hardly be articulated without telling you some of my own long-held beliefs. In a nutshell it teaches me these gems:

1) We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may (Articles of Faith).

2) We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. (Declaration of Independence)

3) But I say unto you, Love your benemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you (Holy Bible – Matthew 5:44).

No man is perfect and no man can stand alone but it is the pursuit of perfection and the willingness to stand with God despite all the fallacies of man that allows us to embrace good and show love and compassion towards all of the earth’s inhabitants regardless of our beliefs. That’s a lot less confusing that what I’m seeing in the news these days.

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