We trade in difficulty when we ask men to leave the past in the past. We are Christians, Jews, Muslims and Hindus, religionists all, with our religious ties from antiquity. To forget our own history is impossible. To ask others to forget their history is irresponsible.
Yet, to continue a religious war dating from the Crusades (or before) is ludicrous. It is, therefore, insufficient to ask a man to leave his religious history behind him, so we must do something much, much harder.
We have to ask religious people to understand what happens to them right now in terms of the 21st century geo-politics. If a war occurs at this moment in space and time, it is not a second set of Crusades, this time set in stealth bombers instead of mounted knights with lances. Someone has to help men leave their past without forgetting it and forget their past without leaving it.
We will not be able to educate the extremism out of jihad, regardless of its point of origin, if the history dominates time. There is no way to buy a man's cultural heritage. It is for this reason someone needs to understand that the shedding of new blood revives the past at the same time it dooms the present. Violent anti-terrorism repopulates the ranks.
So, yes, I am asking for forgiveness and reconciliation. Biblically, forgiveness is available to all and reconciliation is the goal. There remains, however, the twin pesky elements of repentance and faith. These are human actions, the kind that make grace (the mother of forgiveness and reconciliation) possible.
Christians could start. Free Church Christians could lead the way. The world could yet be better.
This is a hard thing. This reconciliatory action begins when we ask a modern opponent to understand the bombs dropping on him today are not two thousand years old. Post-modern geo-political concerns rain death on him from the skies. This is so and because it is so, we must start with the contemporary issues, sans regret over some atrocity from the Middle Ages, reciprocated in kind a century later.
This is a hard thing.
Christians can start. We have burned each other for heresy for centuries. Do you really believe there are none who would take up the stake again, if only the (secular) law allowed? Pray keep in mind, the majority of Christian martyrs after the first century an until recent years were martyred by other Christians over major and minor schisms in dogma.
We are historical characters, each of us. Our religions are set in a deep belief that sees history as contributing to life's meaning, whether in looking backward to see man's contribution to his own demise or forward (seeing as though through a glass, darkly) to find the ways man might transcend the processes of nature within the flux of time.
Tomorrow: A Short Story (2,000 words) to illustrate the point.
Opinions expressed here are my own, not those of the church I serve or any other person.