Fear needs to be tempered with common sense

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 1, 2003

Issues of cultural diversity often strike cords of discontent in the world. Just a glance at today's news is enough to see that.

Cultural differences - in the extreme - cause wars. At the very least they can cause a community to be uncomfortable in otherwise-comfortable surroundings.

A proof-in-point was last Sunday's visit by Cellatin Sahiner to several local churches. He identifies himself as a "full-blood" Turk.

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Sahiner's point, it appears, was to show that Turkish and "English" people - meaning Americans in this instance - are actually very similar.

He requested to read the Quran, Islam's Holy Writ, but he also carried with him copies of both the Old and New Testaments.

Church members understandably were cautious in their approach to dealing with Sahiner, having been sensitized by the recent rash of public-safety advisories on suspicious activities. Naturally, they called the police.

Calm heads and open hearts go a long way toward understanding cultural differences. Such prevailed at the churches last Sunday.

The event should remind each of us that we need to be open to learning about differences in faith, philosophy and ideology. Ignorance of those differences – regardless of acceptance – can lead only to hatred, conflict and, ultimately, war.

We need peace, both at home and abroad. Before we can achieve peace, however, we must gain understanding.