Trouble in Paris

Well, here we go again. It is one thing if narrow minded people want to establish a state where they can control everything people say and do. It is a completely different thing when they try to impose their will on the rest of us. I am of course referring to the recent attack in Paris.

Certainly we all condemn the actions of the Muslim extremists. Certainly we must do whatever is necessary to bring these murderers to justice. What we don’t want to do is to give in to the temptation to let judgmental thinking run rampant. Clearly these perpetrators are promoting some very wrong thinking. What I mean by wrong thinking is the idea held by many people that God condones killing people who say or do something you don’t like.

I do not believe God condones killing anyone. When it was written in the Bible “An eye for an eye” it was actually toning things down in a time when slight offenses escalated into long-standing blood feuds. Later in the Bible Jesus tells us to pray for our enemies—to forgive them.

In a practical sense we cannot pardon every terrorist. There penalties for people who commit crimes– as a deterrent. We, as a society have a right to protect ourselves. However, I think it is reasonable to ask what makes people living among us to decide to travel to the mid-east to learn how to kill us more effectively. What does this say about us?

We all want a free and open society. But this comes with responsibility. We have a responsibility to respect people and societies that are different than we are. If you lived next door to a Jew it would be impolite, to say the least, to tell him jokes about the Holocaust. We tolerate the Holocaust deniers even though most of us disagree with and dislike what they say. Just because we have the right to say something it doesn’t mean we should or have to say it. A little compassion or empathy would go a long way here.

Perhaps both sides can back off a bit. We quit saying derogatory things about Mohammed and they quit trying to kill us. It is something to think about anyway.

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