Blogs by Sherry Gail Heim
Peace If Possible, War If Necessary
7/24/2005 4:00:48 AM
A clear perspective
PEACE IF POSSIBLE, WAR IF NECESSARY
Of course we’d blow up Mecca.
And Medina and everywhere else.
If Muslim terrorists set off a nuke in the United States, you bet we’d start blowing things up.
And there’s nothing wrong with saying that.
We don’t want to do it, we’ll bend heaven and earth to avoid it, we want nothing but peace with the rest of the world. The people of the United States respect Islam and its followers.
But we will fight back.
And we will do so in devastating fashion.
That’s not meant to be provocative or disrespectful, or to make light of places sacred to millions.
In fact, the people of the United States want to live in a world where every sacred place is safe, where people are free to follow their own consciences and live life as they choose. We respect other people and nations, and we want other people and nations to respect us.
The United States wants peace, the peace of brothers and equals.
But we’re not patsies, and we’re not cowards, and we’re not going to let our families be butchered.
Which is all the congressman was saying.
I’m talking about Tom Tancredo. He’s a Republican from Colorado and the other day on a Florida radio show he was asked what the United States would do if terrorists set off a nuclear bomb in one of our cities.
He said that we might attack “holy sites.”
The interviewer asked if that meant bombing Mecca.
The congressman said that it did.
And was immediately denounced.
Angry Muslim nations demanded an apology not just from him, but from the nation. The State Department rejected and condemned what the congressman had said, calling it, “insulting and offensive.”
Which it really wasn’t.
It was just honest.
If a nuclear weapon is used against America, the retaliation will be swift and overwhelming. At least most Americans hope so.
And it’s good to say so.
Not to arrogantly boast and brag, or to threaten innocent and good people, but to put the world on notice – good people and bad people – that there will be a hellacious price to pay if an attack of that magnitude is launched against us.
The importance of making that known is that the information may be a factor terrorists want to weigh as they lay their plots. That’s why in our legal system we make criminal punishments known, so that people will be deterred by them and some crime may be avoided.
Americans certainly understand that Mecca is sacred to Muslims. But Muslims must likewise understand that our homes and families are sacred to us. And if we lose ours, you will lose yours.
Which is something none of us wants. Which is something all of us must work to avoid.
But which a congressman ought to be able to say. It must be understood.
But it must not be the focus, for either side.
Far better to follow the lead of Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, who has denounced terrorism and its practitioners, and called for steps to root out the people and places who are twisting and embarrassing Islam. Far better to honor the example of British Muslim leaders who have defended the dignity of their religion against those who use it as an example of evil.
Good people must ally with good people, even if that requires crossing religious and cultural lines.
The people whose faith in Islam leads them to virtuous and noble lives must denounce those of their religion who have murder and conflict in their hearts.
Not because the West tells them to.
But because their consciences tell them to.
It was an evil, immoral and inexcusable perversion of Christianity that led to the excesses of the Crusades. It is an evil, immoral and inexcusable perversion of Islam that leads to the excesses of terrorism. Each faith – and every people – must follow the most honorable voices of their scriptures and traditions.
When all is said and done, people are people and they want the same things. Cultural differences are important, but not overriding. People want to live their lives as they choose. They want to raise their families in peace and safety. They want to see their children and grandchildren grow and live useful lives. They want to work and contribute, and they want to worship God and serve him.
There may be surface differences, even substantive differences, but essentially we are all the same. We are all children of an almighty God, we are all neighbors, and we can all treat one another with dignity and respect, even love.
That is the goal. It is the goal of Muslims and Christians alike. Both peoples and both faiths must share a commitment to the virtue and morality God expects of them, just as they must share a commitment to avoiding violence.
The fight is not between Islam and Christianity – between the Middle East and the West. Rather, the fight is between good and evil, between life and death, nurture and murder.
Yes, both sides will fight. But, no, neither side needs to.
Not if the holier voices are followed.
Islam needs to be Islam, and Christianity needs to be Christianity. We should not tear down one another’s homes and sacred places, we should defend them. We should let our common humanity – our common status as children of God – make us allies in the cause of good.
Americans will fight, and Americans will destroy. All the world should know that and those who would do evil should fear that.
But such things are not our goal.
Peace and respect are our goals. We want to live and let live, to honor and be honored. We want peace.
And we want the Muslims of the world, and the leaders of the Middle East, to be our partners in paving the way for an honorable and equitable peace.
Bob Lonsberry © 2005
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