He said that he wanted to put religious leaders on call, to include them to the response to the attack. Religious leaders as part of a holistic approach, to care for the entire population. He mentioned specifically Christian, Jewish, and Muslim traditions, but there was a sense of openness to his desire for religious presence. Maybe out of surprise, the news anchor doubled back and asked him if that had been an intentional choice, and Pradal said yes. To care for those who were injured, traumatized, and the families of those who were killed. In a country like France that is becoming more and more secular, this really caught my attention. Rather than continuing to see religion as polarizing, giving in to the stereotype that this violence comes from an authentic religious experience, Pradal, a political leader has decided to take a different path.
As I think about this continued cycle of violence and terrorism, I want to lift up Pradal's wisdom - the wisdom of offering comfort, in the form of faith - leaders who can help victims help make sense of what has happened. And, the willingness to offer this across religious boundaries. It is precisely wisdom like this that will enable us to build bridges, to build peace. In our coming together, we can deny the extremist versions of all of our traditions because there are or have been violent strains of every religion on earth. Better still, as we come to know each other better, we'll learn to discern better - and we'll see that ISIS and the practitioners of terror aren't any more representative of Islam than the KKK is of Christianity. People are people, some are violent, some are hateful, but this doesn't come from the heart of our religious traditions. Instead, this violence comes from a tiny percentage of people, and doesn't represent the whole body of the faithful. And as always, in our coming together, we will be better equipped to care for each other, understanding better all that we have in common.
Please pray with me for the city of Nice, for a hurting France after a day that should have been joyful. Please pray with me also for the victims of bombings and violence all over the world, for those who have been terrorized and traumatized. For those who have died, and for those who must live without someone they love.
And if you want to do more than pray, go talk to someone today that you might not normally talk to. Ask them about their life. Not their politics, not their agenda, but about themselves and - if you're brave - their faith. Meet them where they are. And listen. Listen to the God that passes between us when we tell our stories, listen for the peace that we can build together.