Is God a terrorist? No, obviously not. God is love. But not everyone agrees with that.
In 2008, I was traveling in India when terrorists attacked our hotel in Mumbai. Two men in black shot and killed one of my best friends and his 13-year-old daughter.
They were terrorists, no doubt about it. But they were also following orders from puppet masters motivated, in part, by their religious ideology. God was on their side, they believed. Does that make their God a terrorist too?
Hatred Is A Terrorist
This August 2017, Charlottesville was rocked by violent protests and an act of terror that injured many and killed one 32-year-old woman, Heather Heyer. According to a story posted on the WBTV.com website, “Justin Moore, the Grand Dragon for the Loyal White Knights of Ku Klux Klan, said he was glad Heyer died in the attack.
"I'm sorta glad that them people got hit and I'm glad that girl died," Moore said in a voicemail to WBTV's Steve Crump. "They were a bunch of Communists out there protesting against somebody's freedom of speech, so it doesn't bother me that they got hurt at all."
During an interview with the station, KKK Imperial Wizard Chris Barker added, "When a couple of them die, it doesn't bother us." And the group’s recorded phone message says: "Nothing makes us more proud at the KKK than we see white patriots such as James Fields Jr, age 20, taking his car and running over nine communist anti-fascist, killing one [expletive]-lover named Heather Heyer. James Fields hail victory. It's men like you that have made the great white race strong and will be strong again."
Beware of Being Blinded by Self-Righteousness
Are these individuals so consumed with hatred that they are blind to the obvious, namely that there is nothing “great” about using your car to run over strangers? Is the driver meant to exemplify the superiority of the white race by committing a blatantly cowardly act, utterly devoid of compassion or intelligence? What did he do that was even remotely heroic? He plowed his car into a crowd of defenseless people and fled.
This insane tragedy exposes a horrific distortion of faith. Haters are always obsessed with their own righteousness. They are right; others are wrong. In fact, haters show up on all sides of emotionally explosive issues – others (those not in our group) cease to be human and can be referred to with heartless disdain. "When a couple of them die, it doesn't bother us." So, “them” and “they” describe inhuman creatures of some sort, not living and breathing humans with parents and children and jobs and favorite movies and a great recipe for lasagna.
It’s just “them.”
“God Is On Our Side”: A Rallying Battle Cry
Someone once told me a revealing joke about a Southern Baptist being admitted to heaven. “Please keep your voice down,” warned St. Peter. “The American Baptists are over there and they think they’re the only ones in here.”
“God is on our side” has been a rallying battle cry since religion was invented. But it’s inaccurate to blame religious differences for our bloody history of killing each other.
In a recent post, Rabbi Alan Lurie wrote: “In their recently published book, “Encyclopedia of Wars,” authors Charles Phillips and Alan Axelrod document the history of recorded warfare, and from their list of 1763 wars only 123 have been classified to involve a religious cause, accounting for less than 7 percent of all wars and less than 2 percent of all people killed in warfare. While, for example, it is estimated that approximately one to three million people were tragically killed in the Crusades, and perhaps 3,000 in the Inquisition, nearly 35 million soldiers and civilians died in the senseless, and secular, slaughter of World War I alone.”
Lurie goes on to state: “It’s estimated that over 160 million civilians were killed in genocides in the 20th century alone, with nearly 100 million killed by the Communist states of USSR and China.”
When Hatred Is Inflamed and Love Is Missing
Genocide. Mass murder. Such virulent hatred for the “other” is typically inflamed by leaders with agendas, usually prejudice and greed and the lust for personal power, and they often justify their very human agendas with proclamations of Divine support.
But what’s always missing is love. This recalls lyrics from Oh Superman, a 1982 song by Laurie Anderson “When love is gone, there’s always justice. And when justice is gone, there’s always force.”
Pessimistic or Optimistic About Our Future?
History enumerates countless reasons to be pessimistic about our future as a species. Yet, midst all of this, a certain sweetness survives. Acts of irrational kindness go largely unreported but we know they happen because sometimes they happen to us.
Strangers rush to our rescue. Neighbors rally around a family in need. Anonymous donors save lives. Selfless acts of generosity and compassion occur every day in every corner of human society. This gives us hope that there is something inherently good in humans and that ignorant hatred is a mental illness, a disruption of the norm, rather than proof of human barbarism immune to progress.
The Value of Empathy
The God of Love is alive in us and indefatigable, as this response from Heather Heyer’s father demonstrates, reported on the WBTV.com website: “Heyer said the lesson of the tragedy in Charlottesville is that people on all sides need to learn to forgive each other.
“I include myself in forgiving the guy who did this,” he said. “I just think about what the Lord said on the cross, ‘Forgive them, they don’t know what they’re doing.’”
What might it take to share his loving attitude?
In 1959, John Howard Griffin, a Texas-born white man decided to find out about racism first hand. He dyed his skin black and traveled through Louisiana, Mississippi, Georgia, and South Carolina. According to an online article in YES! magazine, “Working as a shoeshine boy in New Orleans, he was struck by how white people stared through him without acknowledging his presence.” His experiences formed the basis for his best-selling book, Black Like Me.
The article continues, “At the heart of his book is a resounding message about the value of empathy: 'If only we could put ourselves in the shoes of others to see how we would react, then we might become aware of the injustices of discrimination and the tragic inhumanity of every kind of prejudice.'”
That’s what woke him up. What will it take for us?
Exemplifying the God of Love
Alec Guinness’s character in the film Bridge Over the River Kwai came to his senses in the final scene. He took off his hat and said, “Oh my God, what have I done?”
Again, what will it take for us to recover from our own self-righteous blindness and exemplify the God of Love? Not just in what we think or say but in how we act.
Another white supremacist on the WBTV interview sported a T-shirt with this definitive declaration on racism: “White Lives Matter More.” Can we see that and forgive, or does it inflame hatred in us? Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn wrote that “the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being.”
Which side are we on?
Book by these Authors
Living An Awakened Life: The Lessons Of Love
by Master Charles Cannon with Will Wilkinson.
Authentic spiritual awakening combines the grace of epiphanies with the rigor of discipline. Serious questers of every kind know and work this balance between inner realization and outer action. Master Charles Cannon’s latest provocative book provides guidance for both.
About the Authors
Master Charles Cannon is a leader in the field of modern spirituality, a visionary and pioneer in the evolution of human consciousness. He founded Synchronicity Foundation for Modern Spirituality in 1983 and developed the High-Tech Meditation and Holistic Lifestyle experience which have helped transform the lives of millions worldwide. His books include: Living An Awakened Life: The Lessons of Love; Forgiving the Unforgivable; Awakening from the American Dream; The Bliss of Freedom; Modern Spirituality; and The Meditation Toolbox. For more information, visit the website: www.Synchronicity.org
Will Wilkinson is a senior consultant with Luminary Communications in Ashland, Oregon. He has written a dozen self-help books and delivered programs in conscious living for forty years, interviewed scores of leading edge change agents, and pioneered experiments in small scale alternative economies. His latest book, Now or Never: A Time Traveler’s Guide to Personal and Global Transformation, published January 2017.