I, perhaps like you, have watched with interest over the last week the debate, Facebook posts and general comments around the proposed development of a mosque in Currumbin. It is clearly a complex political and social issue that has generated a lot of heat on the Gold Coast.
There have been many Facebook posts that are ambiguous in their content, and they have stirred up discussion on this topic. There have been posts with WWJD (what would Jesus do?) in relation to the Mosque, there are media clips of people saying outrageous things and at times racist comments have been made. Some vitriol has been directed at the people of Currumbin, and those who have supported their opposition, labelling them as xenophobic, bigots, rednecks and so on. Those who have been supporters of the Mosque have been called traitors.
It’s easy to call someone a redneck, a bully, a bigot, a traitor or label them in some derogatory way when we don’t know them. Especially when they hold a position that we do not agree with.
There is something in us that moves quickly to objectifying people when in the heat of a battle, or in the midst of a debate. Over the last week I have had opportunity to speak with someone in support of the Mosque, and this person is not a traitor, as well as a person who was opposed to it, and this person was not a bigot. They are people who have come to a complex issue and felt that some factors were weightier or more important for them in the decision making than others.
In Proverbs 15: 1 it is written, “a gentle answer turns away wrath”, and in James 1: 19 we are reminded, “everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.”
We may not always agree with the views of one another, but we can make a choice about how we respond to them. How do we make sure that we bring light, not heat, to complex and controversial issues like an application for a mosque? Maybe, the application of wisdom found in Proverbs and James is a good place to start?