Whilst I understand the desire to identify with the people of Belgium following the terror attacks, as with Paris, I am wary of travelling that road. New York, London, Madrid, Paris, Ankarra, Brussels: Is there a danger of a kind of sentimental psychosis – that insulates us from having to do the hard work of asking “why?”
The French Prime Minister’s “we are at war” has echoes of Bush’s ‘crusade’, and is equally dangerous. Certainly there is a battle going on, but are we certain who are our antagonists? (That sentence begs at least three questions – who are ‘they’, who are ‘we’, and what kind of battle). The headline of my blog is ‘Recovering Evangelicalism – Seeking a Justice based Peace in the Middle East’, and, if we are concerned for justice, explicitly we must seek out injustice. For ‘Evangelicalism’ is about understanding what it means to be a follower of Jesus in the world he created and we inhabit as his ambassadors.
My Primary Identity, to the point, has nothing to do with nationality, nation, or nationalism, and especially not to ethnicity. Those young men who got up that morning determined to die for their ’cause’ were of God’s creation. They identified with an ideology of hate and fear. Do we see and hear similarities in the outpourings of western political leaders. What has gone so badly wrong that hate and fear are the driving forces in this world? It is easy to claim ‘They are extremists, fundamentalists, they are filled with hate, they hate our freedoms, our democracy, our culture’. Well, ‘They’ may be all those things but it doesn’t answer the question, ‘why, what’s gone wrong?’
Could it be that our own hate, our own extremism, our own supremacist behaviour has something to do with the problem? When Western leaders lecture the world on human rights, but deny those rights to those who disagree with them, are they, and we, not demonstrating the polluting effects of our colonial past, (and Yes, America, I’m including you!). Have we ‘Evangelical Christians’, spent so much time apologising for our past sins, that we have failed to notice our current ones?