There is only one God for the whole world

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Midland Daily News, April 14, 2002

As I reflect on the world situation, several thoughts come to mind … and they all turn to God, so I will begin there. So much of human endeavor has been directed toward advocating one notion of God or having God on their side, did it ever occur to people caught up in their battle for God that perhaps their notion of God is distorted?


I grew up with an understanding of an avenging and punishing God, who was willing to drop me into the pits of hell for the slightest infraction. I had nightmares over that frightening possibility. In defense I concluded that God didn't really care, that God was a distant God, one who set the world in motion and it is up to us mortals to cope with the vagaries of nature and this distant God.


In the last ten years or so I have come to realize that my understanding of God came from my religious upbringing and was very distorted. The God of the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures both speak of a loving, caring, and present God … if we but tune into that presence. (Although I am not a scholar of other religious scriptures, it is my understanding that all major religions, especially and including Islam, which has the same roots as the Jews and Christians, profess a similar belief in a God of love.) Where are we humans going wrong?


It seems to me the problem stems from religious leaders and parents who continue to proclaim a God of their making instead of making themselves aware of the God of love who is Master of all and is revealed to us in all kinds of ways. While theologians and others write extensively about God and even "define" God in books of instruction, the only real "definition" is Mystery.  God is ultimate Mystery. As in all mysteries, there is much unraveling to do, the quest of a lifetime.


What does all this have to do with the world situation? Well, our President is said to be an upstanding Christian … and yet he is waging war and speaking of expanding that war. The Israelis and Palestinians believe in this God of love, too … and yet they are waging war against each other. Osama bin Laden and his network are waging war against the United States in the name of the God of Islam.


In the midst of our Civil War, one of Lincoln's advisors said to Lincoln that the Union had God on their side; Lincoln responded by saying that he was praying that the Union was on God's side!  He wasn’t so sure God was on their side.


At the national and local level, too, we say we believe … and yet we criticize, condemn, and look down on those who don't believe the way we do. We get so tied to our personal religious beliefs that we can't see that our neighbor, whether he be Christian, Jew, Muslim, Hindu, or even atheist, is foremost a child of God and deserves respect. If we only believed this, I think it would create a climate of dialog and conversation that would improve our society and culture, not tear us apart. 


Most people in America would probably think that the most tragic day of 2001 was September 11. While the events of that day were indeed tragic and traumatic, our official response to them has been and continues to be the harbinger of more tragic events. We had an opportunity to show the world what the United States is truly made of and we blew it. We instead chose to follow the path of the terrorists - violence and war, proving to them that we are the evil that they say we are! War has never accomplished peace.


I understand that the offer was made by the Taliban in the wake of September 11 to capture and turn over Osama bin Laden to an international Islamic court. Wouldn't that have been far better than the revenge and retaliation that we are wreaking on the world today? Is the American way the only way to a just world?


We mourn, and rightfully so, the thousands who died on September 11 and our hearts reach out to the survivors of that tragic day. Yet, every month 4,300 children die in Iraq because of  the United States' policy of sanctions against Iraq. We won't allow food and health care to be brought into Iraq that could save many of these lives. Who is guilty of the greater atrocity?


Please do not read this as in any way giving aid and comfort to the enemy. I strongly support bringing Osama bin Laden and his followers to justice for what they did on September 11 and at other times in the last decade or so. I am merely trying to put this in a broader perspective that just might lead to a winning solution for the world, not just the United States. There is one God of all. Let us try to act accordingly!