We need to learn to draw our conclusions, in any given controversy, from all the stories rather than from simplistic stories and isolated incidences. If you tell the story, over and over again, that Muslims all hate Christians and want to kill them then it makes sense that you'd come to a conclusion of fear which never leads to any kind of healthy dialogue. Conclusions that are spawned from simplistic stories and isolated circumstances almost always create unnecessary divisions and sometimes lead to justification of violence and hatred.
For every story we tell about a Muslim or group of Muslims killing a Christian or group of Christians, perhaps we should also tell a story about Christians doing violent and unjust acts to Muslims or others. Would it not make sense to consider the Crusades? Have not Christians killed people and bombed, for example, abortion clinics in the name of Christ?
And we must also tell, for every horror story, a story of life and beauty on the other side. For every story about Muslim violence and Christian violence, we must also tell a story of the many Muslims working, even alongside Christians, toward peace and reconciliation. We must tell stories of the many Muslims working, even alongside Christians, toward non-violence. When we've heard and told the stories of both the beauty and the ugliness in Christianity and Islam, when we've come to terms with the plank in our own eye on one hand and with the neighborliness of our Muslim brothers and sisters (think of the story of the "good Samaritan") on the other, then we can find our conclusions... and they will probably be conclusions not of fear but of love and understanding--from shared imperfection as well as nobility.
But it's hard to tell the whole story, sometimes it's impossible because the stories are still unfolding... so perhaps conclusions are overrated anyway. Perhaps conclusions should not be the goal but the stories themselves. Perhaps we can find ourselves wandering through the stories searching for understanding in faith. Perhaps then we wouldn't feel so justified in our hatred and our divisions divisions. Perhaps in our journey through the stories, with no desperation to find a conclusion, we might find the path toward reconciliation.
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