I am a Christian who wants to believe we can live peacefully with Islam. One thing is clear to me: What I learn about Islam from media in the US can fill me with fear and anger. What I learn about Islam by traveling in Muslim countries fills me with hope.
Of course there are real dangers. And rare is the religion whose fundamentalist fringe wouldn't kill in the name of God. But no society should fear another society simply because their leaders and media say they should. Before anyone hardens their take on Islam, a little travel to a moderate Muslim country can be a good idea. (It's a sad irony that terrorism causes Americans to travel less.) If you can't visit in person, travel to Islam vicariously by seeking out connections and friendships with people from cultures and religions that are different from your own.
The centuries-old tension between Christendom and Islam is like a human sharing a forest with a bear. Both just want to gather berries, do a little fishing, raise their kids, and enjoy the sun. Neither wants to do harm to the other, but — because they can't readily communicate — either would likely kill the other if they crossed paths. The world is our forest and we're sharing it with others. As it gets smaller, more and more cultures will cross paths. Our advantage over the human and the bear: we can communicate.
About This Entry
You are reading "The Human, the Bear, and the Forest", an entry posted on 25 January 2010 by Rick Steves.