Friday, September 21, 2012

Quote of the Week (In honor of International Peace Day)

“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.

- The Rabbi

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Quote of the Week

“Historically, the most terrible things - war, genocide, and slavery - have resulted not from disobedience, but from obedience.” 

- Howard Zinn

Saturday, September 1, 2012

What We Saw On The Path

The  mountainous forests of Colorado
Photo by Elisha Hurlocker.
Imagine with me a story. It shouldn't be hard, because it's almost true.

Barack Obama, an Islamic man , a republican woman, you, and me have all briefly put aside our many differences and come together on a Saturday afternoon for a hike through Colorado's forested mountains. It's a narrow path, so we walk single file. Barry O is way up front. The Islamic guy is in the back. You and I are separated by the lady. We're all having a jolly old time when Barry up front says "Aww look at the cute little puppy!" You look down the mountain, to our left, and see a cute bear cub bounding up the hill toward us. I can't see very well because a tree is blocking my vision, but I distinctly hear the panting and footsteps of a large dog and the rattle of a dog collar. The woman between us happens to be an ex-forest ranger. Upon glancing in the direction of the commotion, her eyes widen excitedly. "It's a grizzly!"
And just behind me, in the back of the line the Islamic fellow looks in the direction of the commotion and yells back, "No it's just a rabbit. I can see clearly from here."

After everyone has stated his opinion, we all turn and look at each other. There is confusion in everyone's eyes. Suddenly, the confusion gives way to anger. "How could you fools possibly think that was a bear?"
"Are you nimwits blind?!"
"What crap are you trying to pull? I know what I saw!"

With that, all five of us quickly dig through our packs and whip out knives and brass knuckles. Furious at our inability to agree upon what we all just saw, we all come together in an all out brawl. All kicking, stabbing, punching and yelling obscenities in a fleshy mass of violently shameful humanity.

It is in this moment, having mercilessly attacked a few fellow humans and receiving a few crippling blows myself, that I crawl from the bloody brawl. That I take a few steps back and begin to realize the foolishness of it all. I wipe my hands of some of the blood of my comrades. And I begin to yell at the top of my lungs, "Stop!"

That's where you find me right now. I have my brothers' blood on my hands. I have your blood on my hands.  And mine is on yours.

I find myself asking why. Why did we feel the need to attack each other in the first place? What did we have to gain? And the only answer I can find is that we attacked each other because we couldn't agree upon what we saw. Each person saw and heard something different. Not because they had some evil agenda, but because their position on the path revealed a different glimpse of the picture to each of them.

And when each person revealed their small piece of the picture, instead of working together we used our knowledge against each other. Each individual assumed that all of the others who disagreed with him were not only misinformed, but were in fact engineers of evil, using misinformation for some dastardly purpose. And as a result, we each decided in our hearts that anyone who disagrees with us must be destroyed.

I'm here to tell you that there's a better way of doing things. A young Rabbi a couple thousand years ago came to teach us that another world is possible. We can learn to embrace new ideas that conflict with the ones we hold. We can learn to Love our brothers and sisters.

Where I have used my money and resources to support injustices such as economic slavery and the Western war machine. Where I have used my influence to create division between others. Where I have taken revelations given to me for the sake of encouraging, and have arrogantly used them to divide. I'm mournfully repentant.

None of us could see it through our clouded vision. But if we could only learn to see with new eyes, I think I might know what we might have seen on that mountainside today. There was a majestic lion laying down peacefully with a little white lamb. And a little child was leading them.