Sunday, August 2, 2009

On Shootings and Burnings

The news of the past 24 hours from around the globe has been quite disturbing.

In Tel Aviv, a gunman opened fire in a gay club, killing three and injuring several others. The gunman, armed with an automatic weapon, shot up the club where a support group for Israeli LGBT teen-agers was meeting. He fled the scene and is apparently still on the loose, leading authorities to shut down another gay night club in Tel Aviv as a precaution. While some on the Internet are suggesting this was an attack motivated by the constant Palestinian-Israeli clashes in the area, it seems more likely this was about killing gay people. And, since we don't know who the shooter is, we don't know if it was someone who was a Muslim or a Jew. What we do know is that three teen-agers, who had come to a support group meeting, are dead. And their safe space was violently violated.

Gay leaders in Tel Aviv are suspicious that this attack was fueled by religious bigotry against gay people, something with which many LGBT people are sadly familiar. And it always raises the question to me of how anyone can read religious texts and find support in them for killing people you don't like. I have not read the Qu'ran, but in what I have heard from listening to faithful Muslims, the twisted logic that leads some to strap on bombs to their bodies to blow up other people is not something that is a common widespread belief in Islam. And what makes that form of terrorism any more heinous than the misuse of Torah or the Bible to justify extremism by Jews or Christians? It all has its roots of craziness in fundamentalism.

Such fundamentalism, and extremism, is also the agent that would push a crowd of vigilante Muslims to invade a Christian neighborhood in the Punjab region of Pakistan and torch the homes of Christians, burning alive six followers of Christ. There had been a rumor that Christians in the village had desecrated a copy of the Holy Qu'ran. There is no evidence that this happened, but never let the facts get in the way of good fundamentalist head of steam! The violence has escalated to such an extent that Pakistani President Zadari ordered additional police dispatched into the area to quell the uprising. In all, Pakistani news sources are reporting 800 people have been arrested for rioting and killing.

All of this violence. All of this hatred. All of this fueled by fundamentalism, extremism.... and the very basic baseline human emotion: fear.

Fear of the other, in this case. Fear and loathing of the other. So strange to have this on the day when the Ephesians reading clearly states:
"I, the Prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace."
In more plain language... "Be who you are and can't we all just get along?"
Seriously: can't we?!?!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You would really hope so wouldn't you? The whole world is really all turned upside down it seems.