Peace Like A River

by Stephanie

I hate fighting about as much as a person can hate anything. Diplomacy is by far one of my favorite words. Peace, in the form of an olive branch, is literally tattooed on the back of my neck. Sometimes, to my own detriment, I struggle to keep peace between people and issues (causing me to sometimes sacrifice my own opinions in order to maintain the status quo, but that’s a topic for another day). And this is why religion is a constant struggle for me.

Prompted by the recent discussions surrounding the building of the Park 51 community center, I decided that it would be worth my while to look into the roots of these discussion with the hopes of better understanding each position. I knew in my gut that the rampant Islamophobia was wrong, but had little knowledge to back it up. I just finished a really interesting book, How to Win a Cosmic War: God, Globalization and the End of the War on Terror by Reza Aslan, and it shed a lot of light on not only Islamic fundamentalism but also the long, sordid history between the big 3: Christianity, Islam and Judaism. And when you look back at the history, there simply is no truly innocent party involved. Representatives from all major religions have engaged in a cosmic battle, fighting at times what they believed to be God’s war. Here’s an excerpt from the introduction that I found interesting:
“The events of 9/11 by no means inaugurated the debate over religion and violence in the modern world, but they did render the issue unavoidable. It is easy to blame religion for acts of violence carried out in religion’s name, easier still to comb through scripture for bits of savagery and assume a simple causality between the text and deed. But no religion is inherently violent or peaceful; people are violent or peaceful.”

No religion is inherently violent or peaceful; PEOPLE are violent or peaceful.

I know I should not let the actions of the minorities sway at all my participation in a religion I believe to be the truth, but I can’t help it. I’m being really honest here–sometimes the hatred and the fighting I witness in the name of God makes me want to throw in the towel. I’ve seen religion not just tear apart countries, but I’ve seen it tear apart branches of my own family tree. I’ve seen scriptures weaponized and distorted to suit people’s own selfish agendas and I think to myself “This can’t be what GOD had intended for His people? What am I doing here????

But something keeps me hanging slightly on. Because that ISN’T what God had intended for His people. And I shouldn’t let the crazy or the violent or the selfish be the only voices heard. I’m only one TINY voice in the mix but I’m still A voice in the mix. So I will continue to try to be a voice of peace in the midst of fighting, but please don’t misconstrue my message here, I am very human and often fail miserably. But I guess, in a way, this is my own eternal struggle, my very own cosmic war.