Too many treat greatness not as a responsibility but as an entitlement, an inheritance that was earned for them. They fail to grasp that the struggle for our values is the prize. Take it for granted and it slips away. We will defeat enemies like the Islamic State by learning from our past, not airbrushing it.
Our time could easily become another dark age. Christianity and Islam are hovering over each other, fighting global crusades in the Middle East. The horror of the Middle East is played out in the context of an even larger horror: the globalization of ruthless business practices threatening our Mother Earth.
So -- which side is right? Is Islam essentially violent and intolerant or essentially peaceful and pluralistic? Do the guys with the bloody machetes represent Islam, or are they an aberration? I think that anyone who tries to answer this question simply is doing so deliberately in order to score political points.
If St. Francis' love for all of God's creation, animals, plants, rivers and mountains is alive and with us today, just like his ascetic mission of poverty, then so is his bold peacemaking with the Muslim world. This is a mission worthy of his name, and one can only hope that the current Pope Francis heeds this call.