I am afraid of Daesh (the more appropriate name for ISIS). I’m not afraid of them the way certain republican candidates would like us to be afraid of them–so fearful that we would refuse to treat refugees like the human beings in need of aid that they are. I am not particularly afraid of being attacked. But I am afraid of the hate that they represent. I am afraid for the people close to them. And I am afraid for the young, desperate Muslims caught up in their false promises and rhetoric of hate. It is not contradictory to see how the West, with America as its spear point, are culpable in Daesh’s creation, and yet to feel that the violent ideology of Daesh is a stain on God’s creation.
I do not agree with, though I understand and even sometimes feel, the Hollywood-tinged impulse to suit up and do battle when confronted with such obvious evil. Besides the further horror that those adventures bring, even for the most well-meaning of people, the problem with that idea is that it is unimaginative. It shuts out all other forms of action. A gun, once pulled, WANTS to be fired. It is it’s only purpose, and it is much harder to put away unfired than it to pull the trigger.
But what can people of goodwill do when the threat, though real, is far away? Too often, those who prefer peace tend to do nothing at all, but there are actions we can take here at home. At the very least, it is our responsibility to insure that the fear and hatred Daesh wants to foment (every bit as much a weapon as a missile) does not take root in our society, in our communities, in our own homes.
David Briggs has described four actions we can take, based on research, to combat religiously motivated violence. I’ll give you the headings here, but follow through to the link below for more information.
1) Protect Religious Freedom – this takes constant vigilance and needs active support.
2) Maintain an Independent Judiciary – this is harder for individuals to work on, but it is so important. Consider this when you vote for those with the power to appoint judges. Advocate for impartiality under the law.
3) Respect Your Neighbor – Do not stand idly by when you hear bigotry and ignorance. This is absolutely our responsibility. When you stand up for your neighbors, in however small a context, it makes a difference.
4) Get to Know Your Neighbor – It’s much harder to hate someone you know personally. This is a major reason why interfaith dialogue is so important–when someone says “Muslim” suddenly you don’t think of the terrorist you saw on the news, but of that nice couple down the street you had coffee with. That’s how change happens. That’s how Love mercilessly squeezes out ever drop of poisonous hate.