THE latest column from the Bishop of Croydon, the right reverend Jonathan Clark...
WE ARE united against Isis, against terrorism, against atrocity, against pain and suffering". A great sentiment, but even more so when I put the missing word back in: "We are Muslims united against Isis ..." That is a quote from the message produced by Muslim leaders in Britain of different groups, Sunni and Shia together. It was produced primarily for the Muslim community, but I think it's just as important for all of us. People of no faith may be tempted to blame religion for the violence presently being unleashed across Syria and Iraq by the so-called Islamic State. Christians, Hindus and others might even be tempted to think that Islam is an especially violent religion. Neither of those really works: there's plenty evidence of warfare among followers of all religions, and the 20th Century's greatest murderers were the atheists Stalin, Hitler and Pol Pot.
Violence isn't about religion, whether it's your own or anyone else's. It's something all human beings are capable of - every one of us. But we are also all capable of being peacemakers. At the heart of the world's great religions is that desire for peace, a desire shared by many of no faith at all. The message from Britain's Muslim leaders reminds us that we can't blame some other group, religious or not.
There's not a lot most of us can do about the conflict in the Middle East, except prayer for those of us who pray. But we can all be peacemakers in our own lives, families and communities. It's important that the word is peacemakers. It's not just about living a quiet life; peacemaking is an active thing. It means reaching out to those we might otherwise not meet, understanding their lives and allowing them to understand ours, and finding the common ground of our shared humanity. Leaders of the different faith communities in Croydon have recently started meeting together in order to get to know each other and to understand the lives of the different faith communities we represent. But when it comes to making peace, we can all be leaders.