When it comes to the bigger picture, I am pretty naïve. There is much I don’t understand or comprehend.

For instance, I do not understand fanaticism. Some people are extremely passionate about certain aspects of their lives, to the point where it is “us” versus “them.”

Take sporting events. Many people have a favorite team; they are dyed in the wool fans. That team is “us.” The opponent is “them.” And “them” is on the wrong side and must be defeated. 

I understand the notion of sports. But when a person is a rabid fan of one team, excluding all others, I believe a line has been crossed. There have been far too many arguments and physical altercations to say otherwise.

Many other examples of fanaticism cause people to cross the line of decency. We hear, “Black lives matter!” “White lives matter!” “Latino lives matter!” and so on. And I agree. Life matters!

What I cannot comprehend, in my naiveté, is why it seems as though each proclamation is made to exclude the value of others.  And, like many other “us-versus-them” scenarios, if you are not one of “us,” you are one of “them” — and you are of less value and must be shunned.

This is lunacy.

No color of skin is more or less important than another! In Jesus Christ, we have received the message about how each person is a child of God — no more, no less.

The apostle Paul said in his letter to the Galatians: “There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.”

In Him we are one. Human beings are the ones who make distinctions. And if we make distinctions, we can certainly rediscover our similarities.

What parent doesn’t ultimately love his or her child?

Who doesn’t bleed red when cut?

Who doesn’t grieve after a loved one dies?

Who doesn’t long to be loved and accepted?

Who doesn’t desire to live a long, full and enjoyable life?

Yes, there will always be differences between persons. But that is no reason to allow hatred toward others who are different to grow to the point of physical or rhetorical violence. 

Fanaticism — which, for some, is simply an excuse for legitimating violent tendencies — must end. 

We are all children of God. We all matter.

 The Rev. Mark Broadhead is pastor at Laurel Hill Presbyterian Church and First Presbyterian Church of Crestview.