I recently returned from Rome, Italy where I visited the Colosseum and stood where history could literally be felt in the rocks. As a Christian, I thought what it must have been like to be sent into that vast ring in the center of the structure to be killed because of one’s beliefs during the Reign of the Roman Empire. To be feed – still alive - to a lion so they could pull your muscles away from your bones and die a slow painful death. Last year I traveled to Amsterdam and was able to walk through the very house where Anne Frank and her family hid for two long years while those around them were being persecuted simply because they were Jewish.
And then to think how she almost made it through that horrible time, only to be discovered and led off to a concentration camp herself.
I grew up in the South and really only knew Christians until I did a production of Fiddler on the Roof in 9th grade and met my first Jewish person. Once I moved to NYC, I took a religion course in college and began to study other people’s faiths. People’s attitudes towards those that are different from them, based on their belief system began to baffled me. It demonstrates yet one more instance where we as humans are incapable of tolerance.
In the past ten years, we have heard the word ‘Muslim’ more and more and as a religion, it has grown as one of the largest three in America. As I watch our president journey to other countries and discuss Muslims (while he continues to dodge jabs about himself being a Muslim), it got my mind to thinking. How hard must it be for those who are simply trying to live by their faith to exist when there are extremist who bring shame upon all of them? I’ve never thought it was right to blame (persecute) a whole based on a subset: but we do it all the time.
I wonder if I will ever live to see a time when those of different faiths allow room for each other. I sort of doubt it. Religious wars have been going on throughout time. It’s just a shame that no matter where you travel, someone is always quick to speak ill towards another groups faith. (I saw my own tour guides doing it while in Israel.) At least there, I was able to ponder some of the teachings of Jesus: those that all Christians should think about each day before we go casting stones.