We've all heard the horrible news of the threatening packages sent from Yemen and reportedly addressed to Jewish synagogues in Chicago. Any act of terrorism is unconscionable, and any attack on houses of worship is to be denounced in the clearest of terms. But in the midst of news coverage that tends to emphasize hostility and fuel fear, I hope we all realize that there are people of good will from every faith tradition committed to building bridges and waging peace.
An American Muslim man I've recently become acquainted with sent this email to a group of our mutual friends:
To my dear Jewish brothers and friends,
On behalf of our community, colleagues, family and myself, we condemn in the strongest terms the act (of those who sent) suspected packages, with explosives, reportedly addressed to Jewish places of worship. We are greatly relieved that the plot has been uncovered and interrupted.
We stand shoulder-to-shoulder, hand-to-hand -- unified in solidarity with our Jewish brothers and all partners in justice and peace -- to defend with our lives, our homeland as well as the sanctity, safety and security of synagogues and all places of worship. We need to remain vigilant and unified in defending our freedom to worship and our incessant quest for justice and peace for all.
Your brother under God,
One of the recipients of Shafic's email is a Chicago rabbi who is an articulate Jewish promoter of peace. I'll be meeting with this rabbi in the coming weeks, grateful for the privilege of learning from a wise man committed to justice and security for all people.
We live in a culture where threats of terrorism make for captivating news stories and where fear of the "other" too often trumps relationship. But thankfully that's not the whole story -- as I'm learning from my new Muslim and Jewish friends. Shafic wrote to me this morning that those committed to waging peace "are a part of the silent majority that needs to emerge and lead." I couldn't agree more.
Lynne Hybels, co-founder of Willow Creek Community Church in Illinois, is author of Nice Girls Don't Change the World.