Thursday, 2 October 2014
Dear Inner Circle,
'Terror' is a word that informs me of how I feel about something. It gives me not one scrap of information about the individual who causes me offence. To label a group of people 'terrorists' makes no more sense than to label another group of people 'happyists'.Our current linguistic stupidity is made possible because for a generation or so, we’ve been conditioned to believe that our life is located in the realm of feelings and that we will “know ourselves” when we know how we feel about things.
Let’s look for a word that will help us deal better with our current situation. One suggestion might be the word 'criminal'. We have a police force well able to identify criminal behaviour. We have a court system to weigh evidence and impose penalties. If someone has committed a crime, by all means try them and if guilty, throw the book at them. Perhaps there is a better word that describes a group of people who have some genuine criticism that comes from a longing for a better world. Let's find a word that invites dialogue with such people. If we had confidence in the democracy we hold so dear, why wouldn’t we be open to dialogue with those who think we’re on a seriously wrong path? If there are some who do not want to be heard and engaged but only wish to follow some brutish cult, by all means, deport them to somewhere where they can create heaven on earth and lead the way for the rest of us. My guess is that most would like to be heard and engaged. Maybe our Australian Muslim community, noted for its hard-working, family-oriented, peace-loving ways, has a word for someone who is prepared to disrupt and threaten innocent people? Let's ask them what word should be used so that we might find a way to engage in a tussle that either wins people over or causes us to rethink or deals with them for sake of the safety of the whole community.
The word 'terrorist' adds nothing to our understanding but it does add unrestrained fear. Some of our media outlets have behaved appallingly in this past week. They have relished the creation of fear, seeking to excite rather than inform. They are like school boys who see a dispute and form a circle around the combatants chanting, “Fight, fight, fight”.
Just when we most need light and reason, many of our key players are thriving on fear. My cab driver yesterday told me how his cab has been spat on in this past week, not by drunks but by ordinary looking customers. He told me that people have hailed him down and then refused to get in the cab when they see that he is a Muslim. This is a man who has been paying taxes here for the past 15 years, buying a house, raising three kids and educating them. My daughter suggested the other day that I organise a Hug a Muslim Day. She’s a genius.
Australia, wake up! You’re having a bad dream!
Thanks for being part of our inner circle,
PS. If you missed the Spring edition of our On the Verge newsletter in the mail, you can view it here.
Be sure to follow Graham on Twitter if you have an account; @waysidepastor
Previous Inner Circles
21 August: Saving souls
14 August: Squeaking out
7 August: A time for turning
31 July: You're okay
24 July: Happy tears
17 July: Let's aim higher
10 July: Gristle and good
3 July: The joy of not knowing
26 June: If not now, when? If not me, who?
12 June: Longing for riches
5 June: When you least expect it
22 May: Finding home
15 May: Flying
8 May: Tests, triumps and tissues
1 May: Skuse the French
24 April: Lifting the curtain
17 April: Collective love
10 April: Cardiac arrest
3 April: Awe struck
27 March: You're invited to something special
20 March: Rather a prohet than a loss
13 March: It's all happening at the wayside
6 March: Love makes all the difference
27 February: What goes around
20 February: The joy of being empty handed
13 February: Loving the growth spurts
6 February: Mighty glad to be back by the wayside
23 January: Some criminals have class
16 January: Wonderful surprises
9 January: Ready, set
19 December: Thanks for an awesome year
12 December: Mission and wishin'
5 December: The ups and downs and all is well
28 November: Kissed by the community
21 November: Our cup runneth over
14 November: A revelation from wayside
7 November: When excrement happens
31 October: I am therefore I think
24 October: We are surrounded by heroes
17 October: When you least suspect
26 September: A wayside wobbly
19 September: Knowing a gift
12 September: Advancing at the retreat
5 September: A little dose of good
29 August: Fighting with a feather
22 August: The boom is just beginning
15 August: True riches
8 August: Small is beautiful
1 August: Sensitive people miss all the best views
25 July: A whole lot going on at wayside
18 July: Kings Cross a place of courage
27 June: Holy ground