I’ve been following the "Interfaith Voices" columns since they began. One theme weaves its way through every “voice:” the way of loving kindness.
What I’m hearing from all the voices contributing is the recognition of a “something” greater than ourselves that connects us to one another and to everything in creation. This “something” is called by many names or no name. There are many wisdom teachers who teach us this sense of interconnection with all that is.
Some of the stories, poems, songs, and practices have been collected and written to become our guides. They also are known by different names: the Torah, the Quran, The Bible, Koans, the Upanishads, and other texts. Some of the writers of these columns don’t identify with a “religion” but they echo the theme of our interconnectedness.
I belong to the Christian tradition. We are asked to follow Jesus’ example in how we live our lives. He was counter-cultural in his lifetime as a human. We are asked to be countercultural in this lifetime. To love our neighbors as ourselves. It’s easy to love those who agree with us, isn’t it? It’s much harder to love those who disagree with us or those who look different than we do. Those who speak a different language. Those who come from a different culture. Those who follow a different faith tradition, or none.
We’re living in perilous times. Our world is bombarded with virulent, fear-based rhetoric. A culture that stresses self-interest before all — a "Me First" mentality. We’re not only exposed to violent words. We’re experiencing a rash of violent actions. I don’t know about you, but I dread going online, turning on the TV, or opening the newspaper to the latest headlines and images of death and destruction.
In the Christian tradition, we’re called by Jesus to live a different way. The way of Love. I hear this same message from all the "Interfaith Voices" showing up in these columns. In contrast, think about the messages that fuel our fears. Plato once said, “Courage is knowing what NOT to fear.” Be wary of those who are fueling our fears. We can choose to quiet our fears. We can respond to the world with love.
Can we “tune into the God station” (or whatever name you call “it” by or no name)? Can we tweak our antennas to “see with new eyes,” to awaken to the power of Love? I invite you to pay attention to see where love is showing up. This newspaper shares stories of love all the time. The folks of the Point Restaurant and their volunteers serving Thanksgiving meals to hundreds. The story of Pastor Les Bailey, who started the Helping Hands program in Albany. In the You Tube video of the Royal Wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan, the Episcopal Presiding Bishop, Michael Curry, quoted the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., saying, “We must discover the power of love, the redemptive power of love, and when we do that we will make of this old world a new world. For love is the only way.”
Can you imagine it? When loving your neighbor becomes the only way to be in the world? Where no one goes hungry? Where no one lives in fear? Where everyone has shelter? Where there are no prisons? Where everyone has the health and medical care they need? We are bound together in this common life — whatever our faith tradition. We — you and me — we have a part in bringing about this new world.