Senseless violence upsets the stability of the world. It has impacted my life in profound ways as I am sure it has many others. Locally and globally so many have mobilized to respond. In the last several weeks I’ve been inspired by college students who participated in a competition to combat extremism. In this competition, Missouri won top honors. It reminded me of a poem I wrote many years ago, which is a small contribution to our collective desire to find common ground and more humane ways to disagree.

I can’t help but to wonder what the world would be like today

If we all embraced the true message of peace inherent in our faiths

With billions of people the world over, claiming religion as their guide,
Yet a hand full of people, who, intent on war and monopoly of truth can’t coexist on the same side

You can’t convince me that God instructed,
His children to kill in His name
You can’t have me believe that God would conceive a world where streets are blood stained

I can’t embrace half-truths that misrepresent the God that I know in my heart
I can’t embrace half-truths that limit God’s view
Reducing God to rare and priceless art for the few

We can’t afford to continue in this world as we are
As people of faith embracing mediocrity, setting tolerance as the bar

We’ve got to embrace the hands of our neighbors in peace and accept them as they stand
As children of God, in all of our difference
I believe we are all a part of his plan

To change the trajectory of our world, we must adhere to the principles that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. charged us with: “Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars… Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”

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