“The wolf shall live with the lamb,
the leopard shall lie down with the kid,
the calf and the lion and the fatling together,
and a little child shall lead them.”
-Isaiah 11:6 (NRSV)
This past week Seattle had its turn to be the center of an aborted terrorist plot. On June 22ndJoseph Anthony Davis and Frederick Domingue Jr., were arrested and charged with conspiracy to maim and kill recruits at the Military Entrance Training Station in South Seattle. What makes the incident even more problematic is that both men had converted to Islam and taken on Islamic names. Davis was known as Abu Khalid Abdul-Latif, and Domingue now refers to himself as Walli Mujahidh. The two planned to fire machine guns and toss grenades into the military facility at a time when it would cause maximum casualties (see www.katu.com/news/local/124541229.html).
This is just the latest incident to fire up those who believe that all Muslims in our society should be suspect, and to leave those working for cross-cultural understanding flustered.
Of course, there is so much in the relations between Western culture Christians and Muslims that never makes the news. Like the millions of airplane flights that take off and land safely can quickly fade into the background when there is one plane crash; so in today’s climate, an incident like this can effectively push the more caring actions of millions of American Muslims into, at best, the footnotes of the story. The news does not give the same headline to the likes of Jawad Khaki of Sammamish, who speaks to community groups on building relationships between Christians and Jews and has been awarded the sixth annual Walter Cronkite Faith and Freedom Award by the Interfaith Alliance Foundation (see www.khaki.org) . Similarly, although Sheikh Jamal Rahman, also of the Seattle area, has gone across the country with his “Interfaith Amigos,” Rabbi Ted Falcon and Pastor Don Mackenzie, speaking of developing interfaith understanding, his work gets quickly shoved out of the spotlight by the actions of men who seem more like troubled sociopaths than persons truly devoted to Islam.
So, while it might indeed be true that in our country today, “the wolf living with the lamb” might be far more common than many think, it just doesn’t seem to garner much press. Maybe it’s just too dull.
People of faith who really want to make a difference in this scenario need to reclaim the vision of Isaiah. Christians and Muslims who want to build a world with more caring and understanding might differ with each other on who is truly the “wolf” and who is truly the “lamb”, but there should be little doubt that the wolves and the lambs need to rediscover trust in each other. Such a movement won’t start with the press or with an act of Congress. It will start with each individual who dares to reach out across a cultural barrier to speak and listen.