This article was submitted by guest blogger Rev. C.J. Kady, R.M.A and ULC Minister
Lately, I have been thinking about the young men and women who were savagely gunned down in Orlando. In my prayers for their families, and my continuous prayers of thanks for the safety of my loved ones, I could not help but wonder who was to be the next victim of hatred. This evening, as I sat with my grandparents to have dinner, I learned of the bombing at the Ataturk International Airport in Istanbul. More violence is being reported in the news every day. Hatred is being perpetuated throughout the world, and ignorance reigns in an age where more information is readily available than ever before.
With the touch of a button, or even a voice command, I can learn anything my imagination can conceive of. Whether it is the migratory patterns of Canadian birds or the history of the ball-point pen, information of every imaginable subject is at the fingertips of anyone who seeks it. One need only have the ingenuity to search for it. It is not a long journey; open a web browser or ask Siri!
I cannot help wonder, though, where is the respect? Where is the love and appreciation of the diversity of humanity? Where is the understanding that our differences and uniqueness (on a personal and cultural level) are what makes the tapestry of human life so vibrant and colorful. I cannot even fathom existence in a world where all is dictated by a few, or when opinions and individuality are stripped, annihilated, or left unexplored. Have we not learned from history the consequences of death and violence? Do we not respect life enough to enough to see it as a beautiful, spectacular incarnation of the Divine? Christian or Semite, Buddhist or Muslim, Hindu or Wiccan, however you celebrate God, life is life. Taking a life does not make anyone stronger, it diminishes us all. Violence does not prove anything except madness and the absence of simple human decency.
The more I think and pray, the more I believe that God is trying to tell us something. I'm not entirely sure what it is but a quote from Mother Teresa keeps cycling through my mind. She said, "A Christian should try to be a good Christian, a Muslim should try to be a good Muslim, a Hindu should try to be a good Hindu." These were simple words from a humble missionary in India during a time of profound political and religious strife. It was not a complex message that requires years of theological study, or introspective meditation. Another example can be found in St. Paul's first letter to the Corinthians, "...If I do not have love, I am nothing." He went on to say that no acts we can undertake on earth matter without love. Commonly, this passage is read at weddings to remind us that love is patient and un-envious. I realize that these are wholly Christian examples, but there is a simplicity that I think can be appreciated by any walk of life. True enlightenment comes from mutual respect and appreciation of ideas and beliefs that might not always be aligned with your own.
An Era of Understanding
If we can use technology to learn so many different things about the many and varied cultures across this globe, can we not, now, usher in a new era of understanding and respect? Can't we stop killing each other in the name of God and start embracing each other in the name of humanity? The pages of history are constantly turning. Isn't it time we write something different on them? Maybe something that God would even be proud of.
It doesn't matter if you kneel before the cross, or if you bow your head over the Torah, or if you sit under a ficus and meditate on enlightenment, if you celebrate mother earth and all her mystical spirits, or if you face Mecca and extol Allah - we are ALL people. ALL lives matter. It is time to stop hating each other. It is time to show a little kindness to one another. It's the greatest and simplest of acts, and everyone can afford to give it. You do not have to surrender your liberty or sacrifice security in order to demonstrate a little understanding and a little love.
Rev. C.J. Kady, R.M.A.