Selective highlighting of scriptures has gone viral
2011 began with some bleak news for Muslim-Christian relations around the world.
Recent attacks against churches in Iraq, Nigeria and Egypt have killed dozens of Christian worshippers. Meanwhile, the Pakistani government is standing by the country's controversial blasphemy law which critics say threatens religious minorities.
How should political and religious leaders deal with these challenges to interfaith relations?
Selective highlighting of scriptures has been a modus operandi for pushing particular agendas over the centuries but it has become much more prevalent in the world we live in today.
Great epics of the world have been tales of wars and histories of nations usually feature dynasties and kings, victories and defeats. Conflicts, flames of hatred, and negativity make the news while unity, peace, compassion, sympathy, etc., have no news value. It appears that "peace" is becoming more like wishful thinking than actuality or a word used by clergy in their emails to other clergy or congregants.
While a minor segment of the world is behind these "stormy" developments, majority of us are quietly living and trying to fulfill the ideals of our respective religions. This majority is seldom noticed but this represents the highest ideals of the various religions in actual practice. This silent majority is actually upholding values, ideals and life, and passing these on to the coming generations; and because of them the world goes on and is able to survive.
Despite the madness around us, we should stand by the highest spiritual and moral principles and provide support to the forces of love, mercy, peace, goodness, etc. Let us try not to indulge in arrogant dismissal of "other people's false religion," comparing the "flaws" of others with the "ideals" of our own religion, dehumanizing "outsiders," and playing God's exclusive agents.
Let us be more inclusive; get rid of the caricatures of "others" handed to us by previous generations; and explore the interconnections, interdependencies and similarities. Despite our seriously different beliefs, we should learn to live together in mutual trust, harmony and peace, as we are headed in the same direction. As we are all searching for the truth, we can share our resources and thus we might come closer to the truth.
Religion is a powerful force; we need to take it seriously.