American history is very short by global standards. In the news we’ve been hearing about Coptic Christians in Cairo and the plight of the peoples of Aleppo. What many of us don’t remember is that those were two of the three largest cities in the Ottoman Empire, the Islamic Caliphate that ruled the region from 1299-1919.
Our tendency is to focus on issues of the West and even western varieties of Christianity. This can leave us lacking the “long view” of history that informs many Muslims and—especially—the Islamist movements that have disrupted the entire region.
Of course: the even longer view of history reminds us of when Christianity thrived throughout the greater Middle East.
As ancient cities and people of ancient faiths make contemporary headlines, we need to remember just how young (relatively speaking) our nation is and yet just how much we have to offer those who for centuries have not had the blessings of living in freedom and peace.