ARE WE RESPONSIBLE FOR WHAT IS DONE IN THE NAME OF OUR FAITH?
As my last two posts show, I have been thinking about our faith and how it is seen by outsiders as well as how we treat each other. In the past week or more, I have seen a lot of things that upset me:
1) What I sometimes call the more “Right wing” of our faith attacking the more “Left wing”, some of whom are friends of mine. (I have actually managed to make friends across the spectrum).
2) Someone on a heathen list supporting a brutal act of terrorism and comparing it to our soldiers.
3) Multiple discussions of the SPLC and US government classifying variations of heathenry as violent extremists by lumping us in with groups NOONE I know would support.
4) People who claim to be evidence based acting on rumors and falsehoods while demanding proof from others.
5) People clearly not BOTHERING to actually reach out and talk to each other.
In between all of this, I have had conversations with non-heathens (including multiple Jewish friends) about things like the SPLC and government reports, et cetera. One thing stuck with me from one of my friends. They talked about the need, in their world, for false positives. She talked of walking in NYC and seeing swastikas in chalk on a building. While she was sensitive to how those false positives might hurt my feelings as a heathen, it was necessary to her survival. My other Jewish friend admitted to frustration that I cannot openly display my faith in the USA, the one place where I should be able to. I have to consciously choose to hide my beliefs at work or soft pedal them heavily.
Luckily, heathens I know and do not have also written me wonderful things in this time that have buoyed my spirit.
So, where is all of this leading? It is leading to a question. What responsibility do we carry for those who say they are acting in the name of our faith but whose actions do not match what we feel our faith is about? I do not claim to have a complete answer and it is a challenge for many faiths. I can say we need to have an answer that many of us agree on.
I will start with what my father taught me: “Be hard on the problem, soft on the people.” I know people on multiple sides who detest each other even though they have never met. I see the value in both. There are those who support extremism and racism who I oppose, but for the rest I intend to listen and work to someday get them to see. At this very moment, I am corresponding with people who have said harsh things about my friends out of ignorance. It is my hope, in time, to show them that things are not as simple as they choose to believe.
For now, meditate on this and find your answer. You need to have one, whatever it may be.