The past three months have felt surreal around these parts of Germany. Dresden has become a bit of a punching bag because it is perceived as a haven of racism and hatred. Late in 2014 a handful of people started to schedule marches and demonstrations to protest what they called “the Islamization of the west,” and tapped into a nerve of fear that caused numbers to swell into the tens of thousands.
It is silly to think that a region with 2-4% immigrants would produce a movement based on fear of immigrants. (Although not knowing any immigrants is one of the best ways to have fear of immigrants persist.) And yet, even the perception and subsequent ridicule of Dresden is an exercise in unfairness. 35,000 is a small percentage of half a million people, and estimates claim that nearly three-fourths of the marchers are from other areas all over Germany.
The worst aspect of this whole drama, has been the way that it taps into fears that attract all sorts of people and not just the neo-Nazis that one would expect. In fact, it has attracted a lot of Christian types. It could easily pass for a Republican, or at least a Tea Party movement if it were to occur in the States. That is quite an eye-opener. For all one hopes Christians are true followers of Jesus who stick to the teachings of Scripture, many are easily manipulated herds looking for someone to tell them how to think.
And fear and hatred are the easiest feelings for self-serving leaders to manipulate.
Some will point out that Islamization is a real threat. That there are Muslims who hate the West and Christianity and the danger is real. But we are not Muslims. We do not react to our enemies by forcing them out of society or promoting violence against them. Jesus has called His followers to love their enemies. Love, and not hatred or fear, is the way to deal with those with whom we disagree. It is not the easy way, it is the right way.
Thankfully, Germany is dominated—if not by Christians—at least by people who remember the mistakes of their past, and reason seems to be regaining ground. We may breathe a sigh of relief, but all of this should serve as a reminder and a warning to people everywhere that love and not fear or hate is the best policy for intercultural, interpersonal interaction.