There has been what seems like a constant ramping up in the divisiveness in our country. I am sure that this isn’t news to anyone, as it seems like it is hard to go anywhere or do anything without seeing evidence of an intense and yet poorly formed struggle happening. Words of anger seem much easier to come by than words of hope and if you are anything like me then there is a nice spot under a rock somewhere that I have been retreating to more and more often.
For this reason, I wanted to share with you something that took place this last Saturday. A long-awaited word of hope that I have been starving for. On Saturday, September 16 in the city of Barron, six ministers from churches all over Barron County sat and had lunch with several imams and talked. We talked about our children, we talked about this beautiful place where we live and we talked about a hope for peace and living as neighbors. This event was significant because the religious leaders of this community had never formally met with each other before.
It was amusing to watch pastors try to interact with customs that we knew nothing about but our hosts were very gracious and slowly explained cultural differences with great patience and grace. The religious leaders of the Muslim community in Barron said two things that resonated with me very much. The first was talking about how we are neighbors who live in one community and we need each other. Both communities are capable, but they pale in comparison to the one community that we could be by sharing our goals and life with one another. The second thing that really hit me was when they asked us to go back to our churches and speak about how they are a community of peace. There are no promises in this world because every community has bad people who do bad things, but they are teaching living within this community and bringing peace to every conversation and interaction.
Our two communities are very different with many different customs and understanding of the larger world around us, but we are all people. I would challenge you to seek out something different than you know as often as you can because in doing so we begin to see a little clearer the beautiful nature of this place that we call home. I hope that you see what happened on Saturday as a glimmer of the hope that we all share in the possibility of being united together in our struggles and our victories. The division in our society is real, is our answer to yell back or is it to make new friends and share in the richness that this world has to offer?