My spiritual teacher liked to tell a joke about two men from different religions sitting next to one another. One of them looks at the other and says, “You know, we both worship the same God.” And the other one–a fanatic– says, “Indeed. But you worship God in your way and I worship God in His way.” And he follows that joke with a quiet statement in the spirit of Gandhi, that if you do not have respect for the religion of others, you have no respect for your own.
It’s really no joking matter, though. The dehumanization of groups of people based on religions into which we were born is a step in the direction of genocide. And we’ve seen its cruelty in action–not just in World War II, but also in post-9/11 America. Indeed, I joined the Peace Corps after the “War on Terror” began so that I could learn the practice of Islam, and share its beauty with my fellow country-people in the grips of a propaganda campaign targeting Islam and people suspected of being Muslim–as if that were a crime!–in the United States. I was welcomed as a daughter, friend and a neighbor. And we had many discussions about misperceptions about their religion.
While not Muslim myself, it hurts me very deeply to see Muslim communities targeted and the religion itself on trial–a form of terror itself to Muslims– to prop up some political grab at resource control. It’s dishonest and violent, and we–whatever our religious background, Muslim or not– do not have to go along with it. We are, after all, seeking to put our nonviolence into practice! We can reach out to one another, speak up when we see something inappropriate, and let it truly sink in that security is found and realized when we help to make others secure.
Where do you see anti-Muslim propaganda today? On the news? In the framing of a current event? Elsewhere? Do at least one thing to challenge it.
The Metta Center for Nonviolence, PO Box 98, Petaluma, California 94953 707-774-6299 email@example.com