Sunday, February 8, 2009

Letter to the Editor on Interfaith Understanding

A bitter, war-torn world of clashing narratives

In Ramallah on our interfaith trip, a Jewish participant commented, “All my life I have been told Palestine was vacant until our people came. That’s not true, is it?”

I assured her she had not been lied to, but that her narrative was “true” for those telling it. But, no, it did not match the narrative of the Palestinians living there.

Recent contributors to these pages have cited their own narratives regarding Gaza, each claiming truth. One person’s “collateral damage” is another’s “family.” One person’s “suicide bomber” is another’s “martyr.”

A higher narrative exists.

Rabbi Hillel: “What is hateful to you, don’t do to your neighbor.”
Jesus: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
Muhammad: “Not one of you believes until you wish for others what you wish for yourself.”

A visitor recently on our campus said he was willing to inflict tremendous violence on the “other side” to assure none on “his side.” Hillel, Jesus and Muhammad probably groaned. Yet such sentiments aren’t uncommon in recent contributions

Such an attitude is, unfortunately, part of the current narrative, and it falls woefully short of a higher truth.

Max Carter

The writer is director of Friends Center at Guilford College, and a member of the Board of Directors of Piedmont Interfaith Council.