The recent shootings in Arizona, with six dead and 13 wounded, have been blamed on extremist political rhetoric designed to heighten tensions between different social and cultural groups, and to deepen a sense of fear and mistrust between people.
Some of this, both here and in the U.S., is generated by politicians and media shock jocks, while some of it emanates from ordinary people who happen to have very strong views, or just very strong personalities that thrive on conflict and abuse.
And then there are the chain emails, often irrational and racist, with wild accusations and unsubstantiated claims, promoting fear and hatred, and urging action to preserve the racial, religious or moral purity of so-called “real” Australians.
What can you and I do to help make our communities more harmonious? First, refuse to pass on such inflammatory gossip and slander.
Second, ask yourself, “What would Jesus do in this situation?”
And third, practice what Dr Gordon Moyes calls “positive civil discourse” – by all means express what you believe, but do it in a way that builds bridges and makes friends. That’s what our world so desperately needs.
President Barack Obama’s speech delivered in Tucson, Arizona, yesterday (13 Jan 2011) is an excellent example of what I’m talking about.
Broadcast on 2CH Sydney, 16 January 2011.
Theologian, researcher, teacher, writer, foodie, husband, dad. Works at Moore Theological College.