Malala Yousafzai, the youngest winner of the Novel Peace Prize, is turning the world upside down with her youthful courage and commitment to speaking the truth! If you've not read her autobiography, written with the assistance of Christine Lamb, put it on your "must read' list. The title is
The young author speaks often about how the Taliban has hijacked the faith that inspires her to keep going. She insists that the Taliban is doing the opposite of what traditional Islam promotes. Malala is very angry at what this hijacking has done to her culture. Yet she is determined that it will not destroy her, even if it takes her life.
I'm angry, too, anytime religion gets hijacked so that it is used to promote violence. If I could sit down with Malala, I would tell her that it's not just Islam that gets hijacked. In fact, Christianity has suffered the same fate throughout its history. Jesus' message was about change that leads to peace. It was about shining light into the darkness. The Old Testament was filled with stories showing how people believed that God condoned violence, how God was on the side of certain people and not others.
Today, far too many people who espouse Christianity do not understand that Jesus would not have agreed with those teachings at all. People often end up suffering for what they believe, as Jesus did. After all, the world doesn't have much use for radicals who stand for peace. However, suffering alone does not necessarily make us better people or more devout followers. Sufering actually leads many people into hate and bitterness, just as it did with guerrilla warfare during the American Civil War.
When people use any religion based on love to promote hate, whether it is ethnic or class warfare, homophobia, or gender inequality, you can be sure that these are not the true followers of that religion at all. They are hijackers, trying to take the world in the opposite direction from where it needs to go.
Rather than throwing out the Baby Jesus with the bathwater of corruption and distortion that is making "Jesus" only a four-letter word to so many, it's time we clarified the true message:
Peace on earth! Good will to humanity the world over!