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Demonizing our Enemies

I am an admirer of Rabbi Rami Shapiro’s understanding of humanity and religion. What he wrote on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is appropriate for our political divisions here. He gathered signatures from rabbis and imams in the Nashville area on the following:

“We, the undersigned, do not share a common vision for the Middle East. We do not agree politically, religiously, theologically, or philosophically. We are on different sides of a many-sided conflict that threatens the physical, emotional, and spiritual well being of all of us. What we do share, however, is a deep concern that our differences not alienate us from one another. When dealing with the complexities and competing narratives surrounding the conflict, it is all too easy for us to demonize “the other,” whether that “other” be a Muslim, Christian, or Jew. …………We are not writing to propose a solution to our differences, but to stand together against the demonization of those who propose solutions to which we are opposed. Passion for one view is no excuse for lack of compassion for those who hold very different views……………We can decry the rhetoric and actions of one side or the other without demonizing all Jews, Muslims, Christians, Arabs, Israelis or Palestinians. We may never find common ground, but we can stand together against the tendency within ourselves and our respective communities to deny the humanity of the other and in so doing lose our own humanity as well.”

Christians listen to these words. If Jewish and Muslim Americans can see the difference between disagreeing and demonizing and commit to avoiding the latter, can’t we who call Jesus, Lord, do the same. Pray for the grace to love those you consider your enemies as Jesus commanded all his followers to do. Jesus traded hate and power for Love. He calls us to do the same.