Thursday, April 18, 2013

You Do Have To Pick A Side

 I woke up on Tuesday morning here in China to hear of yet another tragedy close to my home back in the States, and also one close to my heart. The Boston Marathon had been the target of a vicious bombing. My heart began to race, my stomach turned, I knew people who were participating in the race as well as volunteering. I was able to find out quickly that all of my friends were uninjured, at least physically and I was very thankful for that. I am still so saddened for those who were killed and injured both physically, emotionally, spiritually. May healing come quickly to all.

It was in the media fairly quickly that a suspect, a Saudi, was in custody. It would appear to be another act of terrorism committed by an Islamic extremist. This was quickly proven to be false, this man was a victim, not a perpetrator. President Obama in a press conference said that it is not known who is responsible, but that they will be caught. No one knows who is responsible.

Yet I have also heard that in the media and in conversation there is a renewed surge of anti-Islamic sentiment happening. One contributor to Fox news, Erik Rush went so far as to say "Yes they are evil. Let's kill them all."  Yes, he is just one guy, but he is a representative of the contingency of people who have decided that Islamic people as a whole are extremists, violent, terrorists. These people have chosen fear, that fear becomes hate, that hate begets violence, terrorism. Erik Rush and those like him fail to recognize that they are becoming exactly what they claim to despise.

You do have to choose sides in this life. Will you choose fear, or will you choose love? Will you live with courage and compassion or in the cowardice of cruelty? That is right, compassion takes courage, forgiveness takes strength, tolerance is a show of true integrity and fortitude. Anger is easy, activism requires resilience and commitment.

We will not fight terrorism in this world by becoming terrorists ourselves in our hearts and eventually our actions. Forgive everyone, but also stand up for love, stand up for peace. We have great examples to follow, Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela, to name a few. Perhaps no one of us will become a leader of that magnitude, but the energy of each heart that chooses love, the small acts of kindness, the prayers that we utter in solitude, these all impact our surroundings, our world.

You do have to pick a side. Please choose love.

I have more to say about this. Please read my upcoming posts about my recent visit to a mosque, and the practice of metta.

         The prayer of St. Francis

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.

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