I just read the news about the three-year-old boy in British Columbia, who was abducted from his bed and just returned to his house. Safely, one can only hope, but the news of his return brought tears to my eyes. I could just imagine the anguish, helplessness and abject terror of his parents. There were a lot of people praying for him and I don't want to say their prayers were answered, because that would mean our God arbitrarily chooses which lives to spare, which children not to torture, which diseases to heal and which prayers to answer. I don't believe in that kind of God. I believe that the man who stole Kienan was evil, made his own evil choices and brought Kienan home because he knew he had nowhere to run with a baby and prison is not a good place for baby killers.
But the talk of God is what prompted this post. On this anniversary of 9/11, another horrific example of the power of religion to make people hate, I find my mind skittering all over the place, about religions, ethnic groups, hatred and immigrants.
When I was a kid in the post-war years, immigrants were mostly from the Eastern European bloc, Lithuanians, Hungarians...anybody who made the escape from the Russians and were lucky enough to get to Canada. DPs, my parents' generation called them...Displaced Persons. They weren't treated too badly, just looked down upon as not quite as good as "us." They weren't hated, as were the Germans and the Japanese at that time, just blamed for taking jobs that could have gone to "us." Before them, the ignorance and fear was reserved for the Irish immigrants, the Chinese railway workers, the blacks who escaped from the south. Anybody different from "us."
There are none so different to the ignorant as those who call God by a different name. Or even worse, worship a different god. Especially if they insist on not assimilating into our culture, wear different clothes and speak a different language..
I'm a typical mongrel Canadian, ninth generation on both sides. My whole family is composed of immigrants of one kind or another; some looking for a land where they could practice freedom of their religion, some crossing the border to practice freedom of politics, but all, at one time or another, immigrants. Maybe not all; a wide face and high cheekbones that squinch my eyes when I grin might have slipped in from Labrador but it just as likely did not and native Americans were immigrants at one time, too. I believe in God and try to be a good person but I also believe that Jesus was sent to us to bring us back to God, as was Mohammed. I don't believe that Jesus had any intention of making us worship Him except as an embodiment of the one God. If you look at the different churches of the Christian persuasion, their rules and beliefs are every bit as different from each other as Islaam. Men interpreted and corrupted the Word from the beginning of time, sometimes because of the times they lived in and sometimes because they just knew better than anyone else.
But in every religion there is a core of good and a periphery of fanatics. Christianity has had more than its share of fanaticism in God's name: the crusades, the inquisition, pograms, to name just a few. The fact that Islaam has its share of zealots and fanatics shouldn't come as much of a surprise. It also has a core of good and truth and the God that Islaamics worship is our own.
I guess what burns my butt the most is that throughout the ages, so many have been tortured and killed in the name of God. Or Allah. Or any other name. Who are they trying to kid? Their actions are no different from that of the man who abducted that little three-year-old - evil, pure and simple. He wasn't following the instructions of a higher power, he was just satisfying a debased impulse that makes him lower than any animal. Those people from any country or religion or colour or creed who kill in the name of their god will never see Him in the afterlife. But the blame for those deaths does not belong to the country or religion, it belongs to terrible, terrible individuals who worship evil and have distorted others' faith for their own purposes.
This is a rambling post and much more opinionated than my usual, but on this 10th anniversary of 9/11, I've done a lot of reflecting on good and evil. Evil gets much more press than good, but I still believe that there are many more good people in this world than evil and they make our lives tolerable.