This has been rattling around in my head for years and, since I just wrote it all out in a message to a friend, I thought I might as well go ahead and finally post it here.
I have a theory that interfaith and interracial marriages are one of the biggest contributors there are, to world peace. This theory originated from my own interpretation of the Biblical book of Ruth. (Nutshell summary, for those not familiar with the story: Naomi, her husband, and their two sons move from Israel to Moab due to a famine. The sons each marry a Moabite woman, one of whom is called Ruth, the other Orpah. One by one, all three men die. Ruth insists on going with Naomi when she returns to Israel; Orpah stays in Moab. In Israel, Ruth again marries a Jew, and they have a son. The conclusion of the story is the line of descendants from their son down to King David, meaning that the Messiah descends from that union.) In other words, (an) intermarriage eventually leads to a “messianic age”, a time of world peace. Here’s my reasoning.
Peace requires, first of all, that people have the ability to see the common humanity between them. Groups that refuse to intermarry totally deny that common humanity on a very basic level. So, intermarriage counters that just by existing.
On the next level, it creates opportunities for close personal relationships between individuals within both groups – i.e., all the in-laws (as happens in The Butterfly Mosque). Personal relationships are the surest antidote to stereotypes.
Third, the partners to the marriage will find it necessary to work out compromises in many aspects of life. By doing this, they show unequivocally that it is possible – i.e., they become positive deviants. Further, the creative solutions couples find for themselves are also very likely starting points for improving the relationship of the groups as a whole.
Last, the children of these marriages will, I hope, grow up with a much larger sense of what identity means. Ideally, this larger identity would give them space within themselves to contain any conflicts between the groups of their heritage. That containment makes it possible for them to refuse to take sides and by that refusal, create space for others within each group to contain it as well. Then, the groups can listen to each other instead of just fighting over it. (see yesterday’s post.)