I feel prompted to add a comment or two about last week's SOF broadcast "A New Voice for Islam," a thought-provoking interview with Ingrid Mattson, the president of the Islamic Society of North America. I admit to some surprise at the distrust and suspicion with which Ingrid Mattson's comments were heard by some SOF listeners. Perhaps these responses are as thought-provoking as the broadcast.
As I read some of the reflections from the program, to my ears, the voices of anger and mistrust and even outrage sound louder and surer of their correctness than the voices of tolerance and patience and mutual respect.
It is not just in America (although the most quoted, influential and typically loudest voices in this country effectively portray the nation as nearly beyond reproach); it seems that anywhere you listen to the leaders in other countries, it is so much more quotable to polarize than to unite, so much easier to listen to blaming than forgiving, and so commonplace and so ubiquitous to accuse and to point fingers.
Here's my thought: let me challenge the subscribers to SOF to listen to our own voices. When we hear what sounds like a higher-pitched vitriolic volume, regardless of the faith tradition, step back, say hey, "there's a better way." The voices of tolerance and patience and mutual respect, like Ingrid Mattson's, in the long run, have been the voices of the wise, the voices of the saints. Since I'm a Catholic Christian, I'll cite Francis of Assisi who once prayed, "where there is hatred, sow love; where there is injury, pardon; seek first to console; seek first to understand; and (perhaps most of all), make me an instrument of Your peace."
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