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Saturday, July 29, 2006 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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World peace begins with you and me

Special to The Seattle Times

Watching reports of senseless fighting in the Middle East is very disturbing to me.

Anyone who takes faith seriously has got to be troubled by all the death and violence that appears to be sanctioned by religious beliefs. How can political and religious leaders who say their faith sustains them kill innocent civilians and ruin the quality of life for ordinary citizens who have done nothing wrong? Religious beliefs that sanction violence must make the heart of God very sad. Violent religious rhetoric is reprehensible no matter the faith — Christianity, Islam or Judaism.

I know this is not the first time in modern history where innocent people are victims of senseless violence in the name of God, Allah or one's Creator. Nevertheless, it is hard to fathom in the 21st century, with all of our technological advances and modern ideas, that religious God-fearing folks still have not learned how to get along.

Is all the fighting over who occupies what land, or is it much more? It is hard for me to believe there is not enough soil and space on the planet for every country to have its own land. Someone has got to speak peace and common sense to religious radicals who are willing to sacrifice their own mothers for what they see as a just cause. Violence is never a solution to moral, social and political problems. Violence only leads to more violence.

The entire planet is at risk of being blown away by religious fundamentalists who want everyone to follow their brand of religion. Knowing the U.S. has nuclear capabilities and Iran does not hardly makes me feel safer. Terrorist bombings since Sept. 11, 2001, have left all citizens of industrialized countries vulnerable.

What does my faith say to such outrageous behavior? My faith tells me that God continues to be with us in the midst of turmoil, fear and uncertainty. God has not abandoned those in need in Lebanon or in Israel. She will be with those who have lost homes, loved ones and their livelihood. Certainly, God is not to be blamed for the deaths and warring madness. That responsibility must be placed squarely at the feet of those who took hostages and those who dropped bombs.

My faith also tells me that blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. We can have peace with justice. Resolving differences by talking is always a better solution than violence. As long as we talk about our differences, it is possible to come up with a win-win solution. When violence is invoked, there is never a win-win resolution.

Being a peacemaker is not someone else's job, it is all our jobs. I am not the one called to be the peacemaker in the Middle East, but I am to be the peacemaker in my congregation, on my job and within my sphere of influence.

More so than ever, it is important for people of different faiths to talk. It is very tempting to blame Muslims, Jews or Christians for the mess we are in all over this planet. In order to get beyond the blame game, we must talk and, more important, listen to one another.

The Rev. Patricia L. Hunter is an associate in ministry at Mount Zion Baptist Church and an employee-benefits specialist for American Baptist Churches in the USA. She and four other columnists — Aziz Junejo, Pastor Mark Driscoll, the Rev. Patrick J. Howell and Rabbi Mark S. Glickman — take turns writing for

the Faith & Values page. Readers

may send feedback to faithpage@seattletimes.com

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