It seems like every morning I wake up to something new. More hate. More ignorance. This common display of negativity is something that we, myself included, have become far too numb to, developing into the norm for our world. But I don’t want to be numb to it anymore. The hate and hostility should affect me just as much as it affects the victims of it, and if you do genuinely care about the well being of humanity, it should spark some kind of care within your heart as well.
This past weekend, in Phoenix, Arizona, my current place of residence, there was an anti-Islam protest at a mosque where hundreds gathered to rally against ‘Muslim ideology’. Having grown up with close friends that are Muslim, this open display of hatred for the Islamic community sparked my attention. Although I myself am not a Muslim, my heart goes out to the community that deals with this kind of persecution. I cannot even imagine how they must feel.
Something that so many people struggle to understand is that Muslim does not mean terrorist. It’s sad that these terms have become synonymous for so many uneducated people around the world. Any religion can produce extremists, but this does not mean we should attack the religion as a whole. Of course we should not agree with extremist acts; no one wants to see innocent blood shed. But it is ignorant to take a group of loving, religiously dedicated people and blame them for the blood shed from the acts of a few.
A few months ago on the campus of my school, Arizona State University, I was sitting at the Starbucks of the Memorial Union, a common meeting place for students, cramming through some notes the day before a test like your typical stressed-out college student. As I sat quietly ‘studying’ (probably just messing around), I heard a ruckus of noises over yonder by the central area of the Memorial Union. I glanced over to find a few men that were proudly displaying signs stating phrases like “Muslims Burn In hell”, along with posters of hatred towards various other groups. I was instantly disgusted by the ignorance displayed in front of me. The inner places of my heart cringed for the group of Muslim students that crowded around the protestors in disbelief and anger. As if these hateful signs were not enough, the protestors were actually stepping on the Quran, the Islamic holy book.
I cannot fully explain to you the sensation that sent shockwaves of rage through my body at that very moment. I had never felt so personally offended by such an ignorant group of people. I was not a Muslim. I had never been a Muslim. I was not being persecuted for my faith, and I never really had been. But these people were. Something inside of me kept boiling. A fury, a hatred for the hate, a necessity for action welled up inside of me and wouldn’t stop. Unaware of what I was going to do, I marched towards the protestors with a bursting heart and a determined mind.
With every piece of energy that I had, I screamed at the protestors, “You are not Christians! You call yourselves Christians? You are disgusting. God would be ashamed of your actions. I know my God and my God is a God of love. You are promoting nothing but hate. This is all so backwards!” In which one of the men immediately responded to me, “You’re a whore!” Tears flew from my eyes and I instantly buried my head into my best friend Jack’s chest. I didn’t really know what I was feeling at that point. I had given these men a piece of my mind, and of course I knew they wouldn’t listen. But I couldn’t not say anything. The sad part of it all is that giving these types of people attention (like what I did) is probably only going to fuel the fire and make things worse. But I could not wrap my head around the fact that these men, these men claiming my God and my belief system, are representing such a display of blatant hate and ignorance.
Growing up in a Bible-based church taught me a lot about how to love others, and how we should love unconditionally such as how God loves us. But what strikes me as so interesting is that these same ‘Christians’ will be the first ones to persecute anything that they feel is not what they believe. It’s almost as if they feel like it’s their ‘duty’ to change or barge into with full force a culture of which they have no background or understanding. Should anyone agree with terrorist actions? Absolutely not. But for ‘Christians’ to aggressively force themselves into a place of worship, or to parade with signs on a college campus, all in the name of ‘not agreeing with the ideology’ absolutely disgusts me. At the end of the day, is fighting one extremist group of people’s hate with more hate really going to solve anything?
No matter what your background is, what you believe in, or what you stand for, there is never an excuse for hate. A common ground for any system of beliefs that all humans can live by is love. Love leaves no room for ignorance or closed hearts. Anyone can follow a list of rules, but to demonstrate love and acceptance through your actions is a completely different animal. Bad people that do bad things can come from any group, whether it’s Muslim extremists or Christian extremists or anything in between. The main thing we have to remember is that we cannot stereotype any one group. This only creates more ignorance and hate in this world; something that is so prevalent but that only causes more and more problems and suffering for people around the world daily.
Your religion does not determine your character.