Saturday, September 15, 2012

And So It Goes: Violence, Vengeance, Anger, and Aiming at the Wrong Target

Mosque in Harrisonburg after Friday's vandalsim

The local mosque in Harrisonburg, Virginia, was defaced on Friday, as Muslims in many other parts of the world demonstrated against the film whose name I do not know, dishonoring the Prophet Mohammed, with outbreaks of violence reported.  And we all know what happened earlier in the week in Cairo and Benghazi.

Defacing a mosque might seem ‘small’ in light of these other events, but they all bring to light the inherent problem with enacted anger and the desire for vengeance in the form of violence: it never hits the ‘rightful’ target (if there be such a thing).

Thus do folks around the world give vent to their spleen by attacking people who had nothing to do with the film and may not even have known of its existence and, as many of the targeted folks have made clear, disagree with its contents.

And in counter-attack, unknown people closer to home for me attack a building and thereby the people who worship there, none of whom have anything to do with the demonstrations and violence around the world.  The Muslim community in Harrisonburg simply has the misfortune of being handy by virtue of proximity.

So to the Muslim community around the world engaging in violent demonstrations, I would say that most Americans have not even heard of this film, most will not view it, of the ones who view it, most will find its contents disgusting and disturbing, and none of those you are attacking had anything to do with the film or its publication.  If there be an enemy, you’re aiming at the wrong one.

And to my fellow American citizens (presumably most of whom self-identify as Christian) who are speaking anger and rage at all Muslims, who are engaging in vandalism and violence (yes, our words can be as violent as our fists), take a breath and take a moment to watch the counter-demonstrations in Libya, where thousands of Muslims have gathered to protest against the violence to our embassy officials there, holding signs in a language many do not speak (English) in order to show their solidarity and support with us.  And remember that like Christians, Muslims around the world number in the millions, if not billions.  Yesterday, most of ‘them’ behaved like most of ‘us’ – by going to work, to worship, loving their families, praying for peace.

The outbreak of violence anywhere has the potential to bring out either the best – or the worst – in each of us.  The vandalism against the mosque in Harrisonburg is an example of the worst.

In response to the vandalism, the Muslim community there has invited the Harrisonburg community to an Open House at the Mosque from 4.30 - 6.00 p.m. for gathering and celebration of the best of that community.  Visit We Are All Harrisonburg on FaceBook or the Mosque's web site at for more details.

Our Muslim brothers and sisters in Harrisonburg are modeling to rest of us the spirit of the best of us in response to this violence.  If you’re in the area, I hope you will attend.  If you cannot, I hope and pray you will send them messages of love, encouragement and support.

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