|Image Courtesy of Negative Space|
In light of today's political climate, I posted on Facebook that, as a Christian, I had no issue with the Nation of Islam. A friend of mine pointed out that I may not have known what I was talking about. Admittedly, he was right.
My life's path has been a strange one. I didn't know anything about Muslims before 9/11 and after that, I thought they were all terrorists. I wound up being taken in off the street by a Muslim who was more outraged at 9/11 than anyone I knew. He never tried to convert me to his faith. If anything, he was indifferent. He was quick to rebuke me--physically, at times--when I spoke ignorantly of his religion.
Over time I would encounter the Ku Klux Klan in what would become some of the hardest fights of my life. I'd never encountered anyone so consumed by hatred. The more I hit them, the madder they became, that this man of color was getting the better of them. They knew nothing of me, and they didn't care too. I was black, and for that reason alone I needed to be killed in the most violent way possible.
I hated them, all of them, for that.
I would later encounter Klan members who were, surprisingly, weary of the organization or hadn't known how extreme they were when they joined. I actually befriended more than one person who bore that damned swastika somewhere on their bodies, and on more than one occasion wound up fighting their own people right alongside of them. Can't tell you how surreal that was.
My friend's direction led me to learn that the Nation of Islam is a hate group, and stands against virtually every last thing I believe in. I had not known this when I posted on Facebook.
I abhor their ideologies. I abhor any ideology that promotes hatred of anything based on color, gender, or almost anything.
I'm familiar with the Klan, but not the nation. I imagine they'd really hate me, with my California upbringing and willingness to date (pre-marriage) outside of my race. My kids are biracial. Sure they'd love that.
If I were to encounter a member of either group, I would be wary. I would be ready to defend myself. I would be even more so if my family were with me.
But what I will not do is hate every last one of them. Because if I do that, they win.
It's probably a safe assumption that the vast majority of both groups are hate mongering assholes who'd just as soon shoot me than speak to me. But I speak from personal experience when I say they are not all like that.
I despise the nation's ideology. I despise what they stand for. I will be vigilant against them. But I will not hate them. To do so is to surrender control of myself, lose my ability to think clearly and perhaps make a fatal error in judgment if ever confronted by them.
Detest the ideology. Stand ready against those who probably seek to enforce it.
But take each situation one at a time and you may save lives. Your own, to start with.
So, my name is Avery K Tingle. I am a Christian, and I have no animosity towards the RELIGION of Islam.
Thanks for reading.