i continue to think about arrogance and the great harm we do to others by our arrogance. as i watch, read, and listen to the aftermath of the terrorist attacks in paris, the arrogance of the attackers and that of those who rail against them disturbs me. religious fanaticism and bigotry are perhaps the worst expressions of arrogance. many are so quick to brand all who follow the path of islam as evil. they fail to see that all religious extremism is woven from the same arrogant cloth which seeks to impose the will of the extremists on others.
we see christian extremism rearing its ugly head in the united states and elsewhere. many of those elected to high office here are determined to impose their brand of christianity on the rest of the nation, denying women control over their own bodies in the name of religion, calling for the persecution of gays in the name of religion, branding the poor as "takers" in the name of religion, rewriting history to conform to their religious ideals.
we see buddhist extremists persecuting muslims in burma, othodox christian extremists persecuting gays in russia, islamic extremists persecuting religious minorities in the middle east, jewish extremists persecuting arabs in israel, gaza, and the occupied territories. all of this grows, like the christian extermism in the united states, from the arrogance of believing that some have the right, even the duty, to impose their own convictions on those who disagree with those convictions. it is not islam that is the problem; it is the arrogance of fanaticism.
in the west we still persist in our arrogant belief that our way of life and the christian religion which is dominant are more advanced, superior to cultures that are far more ancient. when christianity was in its infancy, hinduism, buddhism, and other eastern religions had been practiced for many hundreds of years. even the judaism from which christianity sprang was a relatively young religion when the religions of india and asia were already ancient. in our arrogance, we have stormed around the globe making colonies, imposing our economic and political systems and religion on them. we have taken natural and human resources that were not ours to take and used them to enrich ourselves. yet we have the audacity to continue to proclaim our superiority over those we have left in desperate circumstances, creating nation states from former colonies that have little chance of becoming unified, cobbling together disparate groups of people who have no historic ties, as if the world were ours to divide up as we think best. what horrible results our arrogance has produced, and we refuse to take responsibility for our actions.
may we turn from our arrogance. may we recognize all religious extremism for the evil that it is. may we accept blame for the problems arising from our own cultural and religious arrogance. may we see that the terrorists in paris have much more in common with us than we want to admit. may we forgive and be forgiven. shalom.