As the political arena tightens, we begin to focus on who should lead our country, now only a year away. The latest scare tactic involves the Muslims and their contribution to terror. It plays on the wants of the Western world to distance ourselves from a religion that is little-known and therefore naturally suspect.
For our whole existence, when our species has had a strange force pop up, that disturbance has been demonized. From the earliest times there was lightning and storms, then plagues and diseases, up to the age of the witches. In biblical times, there was epilepsy described as a condition where demons possessed someone. Now it's Islam.
There is no doubt that one's religion can be conscripted to rationalize radical behavior. It was used by the Mormons to justify polygamy. It was claimed by the Crusaders to authenticate brutality and war. The conquistadors called on the natives in South America to submit to Catholicism or die, and most died. The early Church tried to protect the status quo by coming out against science. Hitler rallied around the superior race nationalism and killed millions of Jews.
From caveman times to the present, fear of the unknown has captured what would be normal behavior and pushed it into hate. Sadly, I have no solution for the Muslim dilemma, but it should start with a calming that appeals to the reality that other faiths will always be with us and around us. The claim that Islam is a false belief that was preached recently is only true in its most radical interpretation. Allah is the same God as the one we worship as Christians. What I would like to see is the Muslims monitoring their own people. They are the ones who should be responsible for those in their numbers with extreme beliefs. Surely the couple in San Bernadino, Calif. had friends who knew of their subversive intentions.
We can and should try to understand Muslims, but we will never have free entry and full access into their world.