“Refraining from violence, then, is not a sign of weakness in one’s faith; it is absolutely the opposite, a sign that one’s faith is unshakable.”
Hillary Clinton said this in the days following Sept. 11, 2012 attack on the U.S. embassy in Libya, where ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans were killed.
That quote stuck with me. I don’t know if I agree with the wording as it is, but I agree that refraining from violence is not a sign of weakness but of assurance in one’s faith. And it’s something I learned from my own experience and from watching others.
For a while, I thought it imperative to roam Facebook pages, particularly those by atheists, and convince everyone there to see things in my Christian way. More than once I stepped over the line in my discussions and had to make amends for my verbal outbursts. I can’t say it was easy realizing I was wrong and then making things right.
Though unpleasant, these experiences helped to put an end to this self-appointed crusade. And to realize that refraining from preaching fire and brimstone upon heathens and atheists does not invalidate something about my faith. Rather, it means I am sure of my faith, not feeling that if I don’t defend something about it, it cannot defend itself. Moreover, it also means I’ll have more time and energy to see the people, not the issues.
The attack on the embassy and the violence in the Muslim world are said to be in response to the anti-Muslim movie (I have my doubts though). If that’s the case, then I am further convinced there is no need for violence because I’ve seen how Christians reacted in response to movies like “Dogma” and “The Last Temptation of Christ.” There was enough in these two movies to call them blasphemy against Christ. But was there any violence in protest to these movies? I can’t say I know of any.
But while there is no need for violence, it cannot be expected that there will be no reaction. Let’s suppose I walk up to a biker and show him a video insulting his mama and then another one that insults his bike or his choice of bike. It’ll be lights out for me, won’t it? And wouldn’t he be justified? So thinking about what it must be like for Muslims, I kind of do understand them; the movie infringes on what’s holy and dear to them.
There should be a gold mean of reacting to critics and to deal with those we do not agree with, a way where boundaries won’t be crossed. And there is such a mean; the Golden Rule – treat others the way you want to be treated, a benchmark professed by both religions involved.
If adhered to by both sides, the Golden Rule will see all involved through to resolution and restoration, even would have prevented the incident in the first place. And it will make possible a harmonious union of seemingly irreconcilable concepts like inviolable and freedom of speech.