Overcoming evil requires courage and sensitivity


Bishop Nigel’s recent article in the Courier, a widely read daily Scottish newspaper published in Dundee

What are we going to do about this dangerous world we are living in? This question inevitably came up in a chance conversation I had with an Imam from Dundee Central Mosque the morning after the terrorist attack on holiday makers in Tunisia in which many Britons were killed in a beach bloodbath. There are no easy answers to the question and right now our thoughts are with the bereaved, the injured and their families.

After this latest atrocity, will certain countries become off limits for tourism? Some households are already changing their holiday plans, fearful of the many perceived dangers. Others are defiantly saying, ‘No, we go, because we cannot let the terrorists win.’ After all, here in Britain we are not immune from terrorist attacks. Sadly the 21st century reality is that this is a global phenomenon affecting places everywhere.

So trusting in faith or hiding in fear is the real challenge. Narrow ideologies, defining ourselves by who we are not, are life-sapping. Overcoming evil and terror and the consequent suffering requires great courage and political will, also great sensitivity and generosity. It will be the measure of this generation whether we can find a peaceful way through the predicament.

Religion can cause violence. Extremist Islamic violence today is at least partly based on a conviction that loving God means hating the enemies of God, perceived as Western secular society. Historically, Christian violence against others has sometimes been supported by similar arguments. Such destructive hatred cannot be justified on any level.

However religion also heals and reconciles differences in love. In Jesus Christ Christians believe that we are shown a sacrificial way of overcoming enmity and loving our neighbour as ourselves. In Prophet Muhammad, Muslims find a similarly powerful teaching of mutual care.

A better understanding of modern religion would benefit everyone. We need to recover the essence of our shared humanity before it is too late.

This article appeared in the Courier on Monday, 6 July 2015.

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