I have been privileged to direct the local Interfaith Conversations group since my pastor convinced me to start it up after I graduated from seminary almost five years ago. We had our first fall meeting last night, and it was extraordinary as so many of these meetings have been. We talked about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict using the vehicle of Richard North Patterson's novel, Exile, which is a beautifully crafted story that manages to convey deep sadness and the complexity of the situation in a way that sometimes only fiction can accomplish. Thus it was that our group of twenty mostly Christians of various denominations gathered in a Presbyterian church in central Texas and listened to a Jewish American and a Muslim American talk about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict from their own unique personal perspectives. Those of us who had read the novel spoke of the deep sadness this fictional story engendered about such a persistently violent reality. One thing we all seemed to agree upon is the need for moderates to speak out--with passion as one group member eloquently expressed it.
Thus I was delighted to open the Austin paper this morning and read of a demonstration by moderates in Austin yesterday, which the organizer called a Muslim Peace March. After the march, the leader of a local Muslim community center quoted the Quran: "Whoever kills a person unjustly, it is as though he has killed all mankind." Indeed. Worth remembering as we near the sixth anniversary of the 9-11 attacks in this country and as the violence in the Middle East and around the world shows no signs of abating. Each person lost to violence is an irreplaceable loss. And the impact of their loss spreads out in ways that can never be fully calculated.
Passionate moderation is a healthy alternative to hand-wringing. Those heroes such as Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. and Mother Teresa who have gone before us have demonstrated that one passionate person can make a huge difference.
Grace and Peace,