One Community - Many Voices
The Interfaith Alliance of Marion County, Florida, is committed to protecting the integrity of both religion and democracy in America. We champion religious freedom by respecting individual rights, promoting policies that protect vital boundaries between religion and government, and uniting diverse voices to challenge extremism and build common ground.
We celebrate the diversity of paths within our community and join together to promote compassion and civility and create opportunities for mutual respect and and understanding.
Martin Luther King, Jr.
We have before us the glorious opportunity to inject a new dimension of love into the veins of our civilization. There is still a voice crying out in terms that echo across the generations, saying: Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, pray for them that despitefully use you, that you may be the children of your Father which is in Heaven.
This love might well be the salvation of our civilization. This is why I am so impressed with our motto for the week, 'Freedom and Justice through Love.' Not through violence; not through hate; no, not even through boycotts, but through love.
It is true that as we struggle for freedom in America we will have to boycott at times. But we must remember as we boycott that a boycott is not an end within itself; it is merely a means to awaken a sense of shame within the oppressor and challenge his false sense of superiority. But the end is reconciliation; the end is redemption; the end is the creation of the beloved community.
I frequently go off on a tangent about religion. There are a couple of reasons for that. One is that I think it's a waste of resources to be pining for a celestial paradise when living in the here and now require so much attention. Two, I think that god, if she does exist, does not want people to try to understand the bronze age mythology and morality of a tribe of warriors, sheep herders and Taliban precursors. She wants a major rewrite.
But I don't really have a problem with average religious people as long as they don't expect me to participate. I DO have a problem with fundamentalists from any religion. They're the ones that give the rest of their religious adherents a bad name and that goes for Christianity as well as Muslims.
Where I live, there are a lot of Muslims. I see them pushing strollers on the sidewalk, serving shwarma from a grease wagon, at my old place of work and among my friends. The right wing noise machine has a lot of right wing voters convinced that these people, who in total are a tiny fraction of the American population, are going to receive a fatwa and murder us all in our beds. Setting aside the fact that the numerical probability of this happening is about as likely as being sucked down the bathtub drain, it's just a ridiculous idea. Who has the time to go all jihad on anyone anymore? There's work, chauffeuring your kids around, going to back to school night, shopping for food, cooking, cleaning, mowing the lawn. Muslims are just as exhausted as the rest of us. And besides, not every Muslim is a fanatical, fundamentalist in the mold of Pat Robertson or Jack van Impe.
The timing and severity of the events in the past couple days point to a political motive to me. They are designed to make Obama look bad, to make his foreign policy staff look overwhelmed (too bad that Hillary is as steady as a rock) and to make the less reflective and conscientious Americans among us to take their anger out on innocent people. That would be bad. I don't care how unhappy I am with Obama, there is no excuse for using innocent Muslim Americans to score political points.
I hope I am wrong about this but as the rioting escalates (and who knows who is behind that really and with how much money) the conservative Fox News viewer, indoctrinated by endless Muslim jihad scenarios, might start to lose it. It's just the kind of chaos scenario the right wing would delight in. And where has Karl Rove been lately? He's been entirely too quiet.
So, keep an eye out for your Muslim neighbors and friends. Don't let the mob impinge on everyone else's religious freedom, even if all that praying is a waste of time after all.
The principle of compassion lies at the heart of all religious, ethical and spiritual traditions, calling us always to treat all others as we wish to be treated ourselves. Compassion impels us to work tirelessly to alleviate the suffering of our fellow creatures, to dethrone ourselves from the centre of our world and put another there, and to honor the inviolable sanctity of every single human being, treating everybody, without exception, with absolute justice, equity and respect.
It is also necessary in both public and private life to refrain consistently and empathically from inflicting pain. To act or speak violently out of spite, chauvinism, or self-interest, to impoverish, exploit or deny basic rights to anybody, and to incite hatred by denigrating others-even our enemies-is a denial of our common humanity. We acknowledge that we have failed to live compassionately and that some have even increased the sum of human misery in the name of religion.
We therefore call upon all men and women
We urgently need to make compassion a clear, luminous and dynamic force in our polarized world. Rooted in a principled determination to transcend selfishness, compassion can break down political, dogmatic, ideological and religious boundaries. Born of our deep interdependence, compassion is essential to human relationships and to a fulfilled humanity. It is the path to enlightenment, and indispensable to the creation of a just economy and a peaceful global community.