Given the events that have occurred over the past few days, I must write. I must write because firstly, it will help me process the information a little bit more, and secondly, because I feel my voice must be heard. Yes, my opinion, the opinion of a 23 year old American young woman who stills has much to learn about the world and will admit to being quite ignorant about the world has a voice that matters, whether other people think so or not. My voice matters because I’m a part of this world and because the things that I say and do make an impact on the world, no matter how small. So, here’s what I have to say.
My heart is shattered. It is completely broken into a million pieces after what happened this past Friday night. I consider France my second home, and tears and fear were brought to my eyes and my heart when I heard the news about the events that occurred in Paris. No, I am not French, but yes, I still consider myself a part of France. Why, you may ask. Why because not only do I live here and know people here that mean a lot to me, but also because I believe that I am a citizen of the world. With that comes compassion and love for the rest of the world, whether I understand this world fully or not. So, thus, my heart is a part of the world, and thus, I feel my heart break when the world’s hearts break.
The events of this past Friday still leave me almost breathless, and I’m still having a difficult time processing all of it. These people, that have done evil things in the name of religion anger me to no end for multiple reasons, and I have lost some faith in humanity.
Yes, I brought up religion, and yes, I will talk about religion. Why? Because I am a Christian, and I have no shame in that, but what I do have shame in is when people, whether they be Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Jews, etc. use their religion to destroy, to lie, to kill. This is not who God is. This is not what religion is suppose to be. This is what people who happen to prescribe to a certain religion have used to carry out their personal hatred, vendettas, and anger on those whom they believe have wronged them in some way.
I believe in love. I believe in compassion. I believe in caring for one another, and this just doesn’t apply to my fellow Christians. I believe in caring for everyone, regardless of their religious or non-religious beliefs. As a Christian, I personally have felt persecuted based on what Christians have done to use the Christian religion to kill, to destroy, to lie in the past, but I repeat THIS IS NOT WHO GOD IS. THIS IS NOT WHAT RELIGION IS SUPPOSE TO BE.
I’m sorry if this offends you, but this who I am. This is what I believe. You can choose to read my blog posts or not from this point forward. You will not offend me if you choose to no longer read my blog posts, but I will talk about these things.
But anyways, to continue, because I feel this way about my personal faith, I have a firm belief that most Muslims feel the exact same way about their faith. ISIS has perverted their faith, their religion, but just as I am persecuted and judged for the evil things Christians have done in the name of my religion in the past, so are Muslims. So, I ask not only my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ but also those whom I know that don’t prescribe to a religion to put themselves in the shoes of these Muslims and these refugees, despite the fact that they are Muslim, or even think about the fact that there are people who are using their faith to destroy and to kill. How would you feel if it was your religion or your nationality or your ethnicity or your culture or your traditions that were being used as a reason for terrible acts of hatred?
This is why I am extremely embarrassed that Muslims and even refugees are being persecuted, because even though I am not Muslim and even though I can honestly say that I don’t know that much about Islam, it doesn’t matter. They are still people. They are still human. They still have value, and I personally believe that they are still children of God, despite their differing beliefs.
Going off of that, upon reading the recent news about how many of the States have decided against accepting refugees, I immediately became angered. These people are fleeing their country where their religion has been perverted, where they are constantly being persecuted, and where things like the bombings in Paris are their daily norm. I am ashamed of you America. I am ashamed to call you my home, because what if it were you? What if it were your families, your friends, your country, your home that was being destroyed, persecuted, and killed? I, myself, am an immigrant, and it’s extremely difficult for me sometimes due to being so far away from home and my family, due to the extraneous amounts of paperwork and red tape that I have to go through to stay in the country, and due to the feeling of being a fish out of water, not quite feeling like I belong. Yes, it’s difficult for me from time to time, but imagine already having the difficulties of being an immigrant and then, in addition to that, being persecuted and living in constant fear of losing your home, losing your loved ones, losing your life, and losing your faith.
I understand that many Americans are terrified of what might happen, of possible terrorist attacks, but I also know that if we let our fear get to us, then ISIS has already won. This is a time to unify. This is a time to look at your fellow global citizens and to accept them because that person could’ve been you. Now, you might think that I am saying all of this because I think I’m brave, but you must know that I am the farthest thing from it. I’m terrified. I’m scared to death. I balled my eyes out the other night after spending hours reading news article after news article because of the intense fear that I feel in my heart, not only for all of those refugees and for France but also for myself, for my friends in Europe and in the U.S., and for my family. I am horrified and terrified. However, I also know that God calls us to “love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another (John 13:34)”.
Romans 12:9-10: “Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection.”
LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, LOVE. That is what we need to do, endlessly.
Love one another. Love the refugees. Love the Christians. Love the Muslims. Love those whom don’t prescribe to any religion. Love the Jews. Love the French. Love the Americans. Love the Syrians. Love the Iraqis. Love the Middle East. Love Europe. I could go on and on and on and on forever, but I’m sure you get it.
I also have yet another challenge for you though. Love ISIS. That may seem like an intense thing to say, and some of you may even think that it’s a stupid and ignorant thing to say. However, here’s what I have to say in response to that. yes, I want more than anything to hate ISIS. I want more than anything for them to feel the same pain that they have caused so many. Yes, I want them to be destroyed, but if anyone needs love, it’s our enemy, because the reason our enemies become enemies in the first place and want to destroy and to kill is because they themselves feel wronged in some way, have felt pain and hurt, have experienced destruction.
Matthew 5:44: “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”
Luke 6:27: “But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you.”
For hate spreads hate which spreads hate and even more hate, but love, love spreads love upon love upon love, and in addition to that, God has stated that He will avenge us. God is a God of justice. He will repay: Romans 12: 19: ”Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine. I will repay,’ says the Lord.”
Even for those whom I care for and know whom aren’t Christians or religious, when has hate ever gotten you anywhere good in life? When has it ever made things better? It might make you feel better, for awhile. It might make you feel like you’ve achieved something, for awhile, but in my personal experience, it’s only ever caused further pain and destruction in my own life and in the lives of those around me.
So, yes, maybe you think my opinion is bullshit. Perhaps you even think it’s not important or well-grounded, which is fine. You don’t have to believe me. You don’t have to agree with me. You don’t have to listen to me, but I could not just continue living my life after what has happened without reflecting and without saying a word, because the more of us that speak up against such horrors and the more of us that unify, the better this world will become. The more likely we will be to defeat our enemies, as well as the hatred and evil that exists in this world.
The thoughts of a 23 year old expatriate nobody, but thoughts that I think are worth considering.
The main point of me coming to France was to become more of a global citizen, to learn more about this world and to learn how to be a part of it. This is me becoming a part of it. This is me being of the world, rather than just in it.
I hope you think about these issues and that you will choose love instead of hatred. I ask you to reflect, my friends, and to stand with me in fighting the enemies of evil and hatred.
A plus mes amis….