Posts Tagged ‘Peace’
Peace is the fruit of love, a love that is also justice. But to grow in love requires work — hard work. And it can bring pain because it implies loss — loss of the certitudes, comforts, and hurts that shelter and define us.
~ Jean Vanier
Just Because You Love Jesus Doesn’t Mean You Have to Disrespect the Buddha, Dishonor Muhammad or Disregard Moses
On this 11th anniversary of 9/11, it’s a good day for us to look back and assess the damage.
The damage to buildings long been accounted for, and much has been rebuilt. The damage to the economy has also been debated and estimated — and replaced by new, greater, primarily self-inflicted economic wounds.
The damage to families is, of course, impossible to assess or quantify. It can only be mourned.
But there’s another impact of those attacks that is still too seldom tallied: how our religious communities have turned from their deepest teachings and values of peace and reconciliation, and have too often become possessed, we might say, by spirits of fear, revenge, isolation and hostility.
As a Christian, I’ve certainly seen it and felt it in the Christian community, expressed often in a sense that the more you love Jesus, the more inhospitable you’ll be toward other faiths. “Don’t let them build mosques or temples on our turf,” some say. “Don’t let them express their difference in dress or ritual,” others suggest. “Require them to conform to our holidays and cultural codes,” others demand.
This turn toward hostility has disturbed me, so a few years ago I began studying it more in earnest. My research led me to the underlying relationships among religious hostility, religious solidarity and religious identity. Today, the results of my research and reflection go public in a new book (“Why Did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha, and Mohammed Cross the Road?“), and among many conclusions, one stands out — one that I hope my fellow Christians can hear and ponder.
To be a strong Christian does not mean you have to have a strong antipathy toward other faiths and their leaders.
To be hostile rather than hospitable, in fact, makes you a worse Christian, not a better one.
To be respectful, curious, humble, inquisitive and hospitable to people of other faiths makes you a better Christian — meaning a more Christ-like one. To love your neighbor means, at the very least, not to discriminate against him, not to dehumanize him, not to insult him or what he holds dear, not to act as if God made a mistake in giving him a place in this world.
Put more positively, to love your neighbor of another faith means to seek to understand her, to learn to see the world from her perspective, to stand with her, as it were, so that you can feel what she feels and maybe even come to understand why she loves what she loves.
In the book I recount a conversation I shared over lunch with an imam who became a good friend in the weeks after 9/11. We each shared what it was we loved about our religions and their founders. He went first, and then as I was sharing, he interrupted me. “I have never heard a Christian share what he loves about his faith,” he told me. “I have only heard my fellow Muslims tell me what Christians believe. It is so different to hear it from you.”
I knew what he meant.
What would happen if more of us, whatever our religious tradition, extracted ourselves from the vicious cycles of offense and revenge, hurt and resentment, misunderstanding and counter-misunderstanding, rumor and innuendo? One thing is certain: We would become more faithful to the vision of our founders, not less. May that be so.
~ Brian McLaren
The more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonders and realities of the universe about us the less taste we shall have for the destruction of our race.
~ Rachel Carson
George Prochnik would like the world to put a sock in it. He makes his case in a new book, In Pursuit of Silence: Listening for Meaning in a World of Noise (Doubleday, $26). Here he explains himself (using his indoor voice):
Jackhammers. Leaf blowers. Car alarms. The aggravating, tinny sound coming out of iPod earphones. We’ve become so accustomed to noise, there’s almost an ingrained prejudice against the idea that silence might be beneficial. If you tell someone to be quiet, you sound like an old man. But it’s never been more essential to find sustainable quiet. Silence focuses us, brings us closer to the people around us, improves our health, and is a key to lasting peace and contentment.
We need to excite people about the sounds you start to hear if you merely quiet things down a little. During a Japanese tea ceremony, the smallest sounds become a kind of artistry — the clacking spoons on a bowl, the edges of a kimono brushing against the floor. In ancient times, even those who entered a Zen garden without being in a silent frame of mind — samurai warriors, even — were seduced into silence.
We have different samurai today: televisions blaring at high volume, restaurants assaulting our ears with deafening music. It’s okay to socialize with friends in a way that doesn’t revolve around noise. At work and at home, we need to find places that are escapes from the world of sound. That’s not as difficult as you might think. It may involve good earplugs (I favor blue Hearos from the Xtreme Protection Series), though you want it to be more encompassing. Find a fountain or a place where water flows. Falling water not only masks noise; it has acoustic properties that are psychologically beneficial.
In deaf communities, attentiveness is heightened in almost every aspect of life. If two deaf people are walking together, using sign language, they constantly watch out for each other and protect each other by holding the other in their gaze. They are connected yet also keenly aware of their surroundings. Even deaf teenagers! We in the hearing world can learn from them. If we remove the overwhelming blasts of noise, we become aware of an extraordinarily rich world around us — of little rustling sounds and the patter of footsteps, of bird songs and ice cracking. It’s astonishing how beautiful things sound when you can really listen.
~ Interview by David Hochman, Reader’s Digest May 2010 edition