By accurately labeling the terrorism associated with 9/11 as “Al-Qaeda terrorism”, we avoid the dangers of legitimizing the terrorist organizations or demonizing an entire religious or ethnic block of humanity.
This craving, this desire to fill ourselves with “things” is often a mask, a recognition that we are hollow on the inside, that there is something in us that is calling out to be fulfilled. That craving, however, is often not about things, but an opening in the heart that can only be filled by the love of another that makes us whole.
So what do people of faith have to say today, facing the catastrophic destruction in Philippines? Where do we stand? Do we have a contribution that is actually informed by our faith traditions? Here are five points to keep in mind and in our hearts as we link together direct and immediate compassionate action with spiritual reflection.
How are we to make sense of Madonna’s interest in Islam? It’s about a number of factors, ranging from Islamophobia to the entertainment industry to racial privilege. And the Islamic ethical tradition might have something to offer us here.
The whole language of “mistaken” identity and “mis-directed” hate crime is also one that we have to put an end to. There is no such thing as a “properly” directed hate crime for there to be a “misdirected” hate crime.
So when we hear bigoted online voices stating their disappointment that “An Arab”, a “sand nigger”, or a “Muslim” has won the Ms. America prize, the correct response is not to merely point that Ms. Davuluri is in fact both American and Hindu. The conversation is also about America, and American identity. It is not about who Ms. Davuluri is not. It’s about who we as Americans are, who we wish to become.
This is not simply Islamists vs. Secularists. It is tempting to see this as a struggle of Islamicly leaning AKP against secularists. And that would be a mistake. A strong leader, Erdogan, is facing a substantial percentage of his own society who right now do not feel represented, included, seen, heard, and accounted for. It’s a great opportunity for Turkey to become an even more vibrant democracy.
Remember, Jesus didn’t become Christ till he was 30. Muhammad did not become the Prophet till he was 40. And you all are not any cooler than them.
It took Jesus and Muhammad a while to figure out who they were, and what they were going to “do.” If you haven’t figured it out by the time you’re 22, it’s alright. Be generous with your selves.
Here was a lesson that Martin Richard, the wise 8-year old, had already learned:
If you can, bring joy and love to humanity.
If you cannot, and you can, at least cause no harm.