This past month the national news has presented us with two individuals who are regarded as supreme enemies of our society. One was Alexander Bissonette the man in Quebec who entered a mosque during a time of worship and murdered six people. His sentence was 40 years without parole. For the families of the victims this sentence was not enough. Justice was not served.  The other individual was Bruce MacArthur who was convicted of eight counts of first-degree murder in Toronto. He will not be eligible for parole until he is in his nineties. These were very disturbing stories and naturally we do not want these individuals walking around freely in this country. Who we decide is our enemy is a fear based decision. There is “us” and there is “them”. There is the story about the 9/11 attacks, when there was an indoor service at a baseball stadium where leaders offered prayers from different religious traditions. A group in the diocese of the Roman Catholic bishop who participated in this service started a movement to depose him because, by participating, he had recognized the legitimacy of the prayers of the other faiths. It is noteworthy that this past month we saw Pope Francis visiting the United Arab Emirates to meet with the top Muslim leaders, the Grand Imam and sign an agreement. He talked about tolerance and respect and condemned religious violence, saying that we are all brothers and sisters. A community can get so focussed on itself that it loses the capacity to relate to those outside. How far should a community go in accepting other people who are different, who have different standards, values and customs? How far must a community go in isolating itself for protection from outsiders? We see the whole controversy in the States about “the wall”. The idea is to keep out the so-called criminals, and immigrants, who are people who are out to hurt us, according to Trump. So he creates this image of the scary dark forces of an enemy outside our borders. They will be a tidal wave that will engulf us so that we will no longer be able to guard our identity. It is “boogie-man politics” and it works. The truth is that we are a nation of immigrants, but in Canada there is more xenophobia than we would like to think. We are not immune to the populism that we are seeing in the USA. Historically, Canadians have turned up their noses at a variety of immigrant populations. There were the Chinese, the Irish, the Ukrainians, the Poles, the Africans and now the Muslims. We have all come from somewhere else. Do you remember the politician who used the expression “old stock Canadians”? She was accused by the opposition of being racist. Well, I am “old stock”. My ancestors came to North America back in the 1700’s. However, that would mean nothing if I talked to an indigenous person whose ancestors have been here for thousands of years. We are afraid that the “unwashed hordes” will sink our boat, overwhelm our health care system, set off bombs, wear strange clothes and have alien customs and laws. I once had coffee in the UBC student union cafeteria. The place was full and when I looked around I realized that I was the only Caucasian, the only white person in the room. Recently a letter was dropped off at a mosque in Edmonton. Some of it went like this: “We kindly ask you to close down your fake worship house and accept Jesus as your one true God. We are white. We are Christians. We are proud. We will fight for our right to exist in our own country. You will not force your savage laws on us. Our women will not be covered and beaten. You are a guest here. Don’t overstay your welcome. So adapt if you want to stay. We are not racist. We just want our way of life back. We will continue watching you.” I saw that on CBC. So who is in and who is out? It is to say that we will only let you join us if you are just like us, if you look like us and talk like us and think like we do. That attitude is a huge stumbling block to those who are struggling to make a new life in this country. The attitude is: “Go back where you came from.” Remember what happened before WW2 when we turned back a boatload of Jews who were forced to return to Germany where they were sent to concentration camps where theywere subsequently murdered in the gas chambers.Historically, the Jews have been scapegoated and demonized, blamed for many of our problems. The thing is that we are afraid of anything that is different. Politicians play on that fear. It is a guaranteed way to get a large block of votes. We use the expression, “playing to the base”. We are afraid of the unknown like we are afraid of the dark. What we hate in ourselves, we project onto other people. We project our dark side onto others. Autocrats use fear and hatred of the dark side to build their power. “Let me take over and I will protect you. The hordes are out there waiting to get in.” That message resonates with fearful people who can be brainwashed into a state of fear and the media can be co-opted in order to promote this agenda. Jesus doesn’t deny that we should deal with evil but we must do our own housecleaning first. Hateful people accuse others of being hateful. Angry people attack others for being angry. We have to see our own dark side and expose it. Those with little self-awareness don’t get it. It can all get hidden behind power, prestige and material possession and even moral purity. People can even hide behind God to justify their positions. Immature religion creates rigid, hateful and crusading people who sometimes focus on a single issue. Tribal religion is about small groups of people “just like me”, who want to feel superior and saved. But when we see others with the eyes of God, then we realize that they are beloved children of God just like us. Then all the distinctions fall apart. Healthy religion is about learning how to see and learning how to see with the eyes of God. Jesus turned all this upside down. The message of loving your enemies and not judging is very difficult and we all fail the test. It requires a change of our consciousness, in the way we think. Our culture is all about honour and shame and ego possessions. Because we have no internal source of our own dignity and honour we go after it through wealth and power. It is not about “who am I?” but “How do I look?And how am I doing?” This is all external stuff: wife, kids, car, house, boat etc. You wouldn’t associate with dishonourable people because that would make you look that way. You have to create and defend your honour and especially defend family, church and country. This sets up a culture of violence. We see extreme examples of that with honour killing. Status is a big deal in our culture and Jesus says, “Don’t go there!” However, we judge and exclude others based on their social status. In the Kingdom of God material poverty doesn’t mean anything. It is about what is happening internally, in your heart. When we forgive someone we are notplacing ourselves on higher moral ground. To refuse to forgive means that we have one up on the other person. We want to be #1. We want to be up rather than down. When we have a sense of being a beloved child of God, that no matter who we are, where we come from, what religion we profess, we can accept that he loves us all equally. Can we accept the fact that it is universal?The Bible says that,  “He makes his rain to fall on the just and the unjust”. That would mean abandoning our special status wouldn’t it. We don’t deserve it, we can’t earn it and whether the other person is an enemy or a friend,we need to know that our lives are held in his love and we all need his mercy and compassion and grace.