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Editorial Reflections

In a world torn by strife, faith communities persist in reconciling people           

Only 11 countries are not at war, according to The Independent in the United Kingdom.  The United States was involved in 134 wars as of September 2014, according to

Wikipedia reports more than 250,000 deaths in 2014 in about 52 wars or armed conflicts between two or more organized governmental or non-governmental groups. Afghanistan, Boko Haram, Syria and Iraq had more than 10,000 casualties each—50,000.  Others with more than 1,000 deaths include Israel-Palestine, Somalia, Darfur, Pakistan, Mexico (drug war), Libya, Yemen, Central African Republic, South Sudan and Ukraine.

Even though conflict is a criteria for news, we don’t hear of all the casualties or even all of the conflicts.

That does not include shootings between individuals, or people so polarized they just can’t agree and express it in bigotry, hate, bullying, put downs, racism, sexism and other short-of gunfire violence.

As we feed ourselves daily at the trough of media reports on violence—be it in newspapers, broadcast or social media—what happens to our worldviews?

Meanwhile, in government circles, we tend to continue to be fighting old battles as the political realm and next presidential race have contenders positioning themselves at different poles to win voters in 2016.  There’s little time to govern.  Media help feed the continual political-campaign mentality, pitting candidates and their opinions against each other so we hardly know reality.

The Civil War, the Civil Rights Movement, the climate change controversy, human rights divides, and the myriad of political issues keep the American public so polarized we could live in continual fear, confused about where reality lies.

Terrorism has us terrorized. 

Do we need more security? Do we need less?  How does our right to privacy fit in?  Has our information been hacked?  Are we insured enough?  Can we believe anything?

We hope The Fig Tree gives a break, allowing for views into lives, thoughts and realities of everyday people beyond the political, social, religious and cultural divides that make it hard to talk.

Just in this issue, we gain perspectives that tell us there is hope in the midst of controversies and confusion.

Diverse people gather and are in conversation regularly at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Kennewick.  They are eager to learn about each other as persons, despite cultural, age and gender differences.  This happens in many other congregations.

African Americans in Spokane have persevered through the years, persisting in their challenges to racial injustice, and reaping benefits of civil rights improvements overtime.  Efforts for racial justice continue.

A gardener finds a bit of heaven in his work pulling weeds, edging, mowing and maintaining two of Manito Park’s gardens.  He, as many of us, interact with people to express his caring.

Campers will swarm to area faith-based camps to interact with each other, nature and God, forming life-long relationships, growing in faith and becoming future leaders.

A Coeur d’Alene columnist keeps before people the myriad of issues related to human rights, trusting that people at their roots are similar.

Faith can have a role in grounding us, if we let it.  Faith can unite us.  It doesn’t have to divide us, even when we have strong differences. 

It can unite us in valuing life, relationships, justice and peace.  It can open us to risk to trust, to hear from others who differ from us with nuances or even gulfs.

The World Council of Churches (WCC)website reports on the many conflicts in which it brings together member churches, ecumenical and interfaith councils to forge negotiations and new avenues to end bloodshed and build reconciliation. 

The WCC is at work with presence in Ukraine, the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan, Israel-Palestine, Cyprus, Burundi, Papua, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Libya, Syria and many more countries and conflicts.  It also promotes a ban on nuclear weapons and the sale of arms. 

The WCC is guiding a pilgrimage to peace and justice, raising challenges to warring parties, gathering people to discuss their differences, seeking paths to end conflicts and always urging church and faith groups to pray for peace and justice.

Mary Stamp

Copyright © June 2015 - The Fig Tree