Much of my prayer lately has been focused on the proverbial and very real question, “why can’t we all get along?”
While tensions are at an all-time high, we’ve seen for years that fear and religion are used to put other people down and oppress them. Politics, ego, and personal agendas do also.
In April of this year I participated in a retreat on compassion. We focused on the fact that we are all one with each other. We focused on seeing the world through the eyes of the other. We recognized and honored the diversity of faith traditions. And we celebrated that even amid diversity we have more in common with others than one might think. We were comforted and hopeful because all major religions, diverse as they are, pronounce some variation of the Golden Rule.
As I reflect on the Golden Rule, I am reminded that all people are made in the image and likeness of God. That’s not always easy to believe or comprehend. And I struggle when I can see it and want to believe it but am lost when the “other” doesn’t want to acknowledge it, believe it, or accept it, and we don’t know how to encounter each other in a way that honors the sacred in each of us.
The best that I can do is check my ego at the door. There is no room for ego when I open my mind and heart to understand the differences between myself and others. But I’m open to it. And it hurts when others need to be right and can’t recognize the hurt and rejection they cause by not having open minds and hearts.
In preparation for the retreat, and subsequent to it, we learned about and reflected on the Charter for Compassion. It’s an international movement that calls upon all people, regardless of religion, ethnicity, etc. to treat others the way we wish to be treated. In addition to the website there is a great TED Talk that more eloquently describes its background and purpose.
The Charter is a real thing. I’ve “signed” it online and encourage you to do the same. Even if you don't sign it, read it and be inspired by the fact that people all over the world believe in what it stands for.
More importantly, let us find our voices. Let us open our hearts and minds. Let us reach out, welcome the stranger, feed the poor, tend to those in need and in the margins, speak for those without a voice, and see Christ in all people, including those with whom we disagree. Let our prayers and actions not just be about us/them. May they be about all of us. We can't always change others but we can be models. To quote Gandhi, let us "be the change you wish to see in the world."