November 18, 2015
We live in a society governed by rule of law. Most of us agree to live by those laws, and understand that if we want them changed then there is a civilized means through which to do this.
Most of us willingly give ourselves to live under the dominion of our governments. We don’t always agree with the person or persons who’ve been elected to run the show, but we respect the institution of government and know those people may be replaced at the next election. We can even volunteer to help that along, by becoming involved in the process.
If we’re really unhappy with the decisions being made by our officials, then we can pick up pen and paper and write our representatives; if we feel strongly enough, we organize petitions, rallies, get media coverage, understanding that this is one of the routes to change in our countries.
Here in North America, if we feel the move to evangelize, to bring others to our own point of view faith-wise, then we speak to others of our faith; we give testimony of how our faith has worked in our lives.
We don’t pick up guns, gird ourselves with explosives, and kill people we don’t even know. In fact, we tend to think the people who do that are psychopaths.
And really, that is exactly what they are.
It’s very, very hard for us to wrap our heads around the events in Paris last Friday. Our thoughts and prayers were immediately engaged and invoked for the victims and their families and friends.
We all have begun to think, “There but by the Grace of God go us.” But something else is afoot as a result of the events, too, and while I understand it, I can’t, in good conscience, agree with it.
Of the over one million refugees fleeing the same violence we witnessed in Paris, one person is thought to have been one of those psychopaths. And because this may be so, many now no longer wish to welcome any refugees into their communities.
We’re afraid. We’re afraid, because we don’t understand the violence. It’s foreign to us, and we don’t know how to fight it.
I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if that was the whole point of having one of the attackers get to Paris that way. The psychopaths were faced with the dilemma: how do they keep their immediate victims there, how do they stop them from fleeing? “They are millions, we are only thousands. If they all flee, we can’t stop them. Oh, I know. We’ll taint them with one of our own—just one, that’s all it will take—and no one will want to take in any of our victims who are fleeing for their lives. Winter is coming. They will die. And the rest, knowing there is no deliverance, there is no escape, there is no mercy—they will stay put.”
That thinking on our part, where we say, “none of them can be trusted, keep them all out, turn away the stranger at the gate”, that thinking makes us no safer than we were, but it does make us much less than we were.
I turn back to the early lessons in my life. As a kid I was bullied, and sometimes that was hard to take. It made me angry and I wanted to get back at those who were treating me badly. But my mother would tell me, that if I did, I would be “lowering” myself to their level, that I would then be no better than those who persecuted me.
And she reminded me of the Sermon on the Mount, and the admonition to turn the other cheek.
This situation is much more serious, this situation with those psychopaths who ran rampant and murdered and injured hundreds in the City of Light. Turning the other cheek against murderers isn’t the way to go.
But neither is making those not responsible for the carnage pay the price for those who are.
We need to be very careful that we don’t ascribe blame to a particular religion. It’s easy enough to do. It might even be emotionally satisfying in the short term. But it would be very wrong to do so.
We need to focus on placing our anger where it belongs: on the organized group of psychopaths who are directly responsible for the violence and the killing.