“Wherever there is other, there is fear.” – The Upanishads.
I want you to do something for me. Well, not for me, for you. Well, not just for you, for us. For all of us.
I want you to make a promise. I want you to try to keep that promise. Even when it isn’t easy to keep. Even when you are being bombarded by messages that conflict with this promise. No, especially when you are confronted with messages that conflict with this promise. . . should you decide to make it.
What promise is it that I am asking you to make? It’s a big promise, and it isn’t an easy promise to keep. But it’s important.
I want you to promise not to allow yourself to be divided from other people.
I want you to promise not to allow yourself to be separated from people because they are a different color from you. No one of any color is any different from you in any way. This is true even though there are some who work very hard to make you believe there are differences. Promise not to allow their fear to divide you.
I want you to promise not to be separated from other people because they have a different religious tradition from yours. There are fundamentalists in all religions, some of whom are violent, and this is true even for Buddhists. The violence of a few is not a reason for you to separate yourself from those who are not and who never will be violent. That is all but a very, very small minority, most of whom you will never encounter.
I want you to promise not to allow yourself to be separated from people who have different political beliefs from you. You will be told that those who disagree with you have nefarious motives, that they mean you harm. Even though you may have extreme differences in our beliefs as to what problems face us and how we solve them, we have a process for working out our disagreements, and that process does not require anger, hatred, or the demonization of millions of people with whom you may disagree.
This is a big ask, I know. But I need to ask you to do something else. Something equally as important. Maybe even more important. I need to ask you to make your promise visible to the rest of the world.
Stop contributing to the divisiveness. Stop posting provocative posts on social media. Stop arguing with people who are much more like you than they are different in comments or in tweets. Stop seeking out information that confirms your biases, that prove that “your side” is right and that “they” are wrong. There is no “they,” and if there is, you and I are both one of them (to someone).
If you are on one knee when the national anthem plays in protest, both knees in prayer, or upset that some aren’t standing with their hand over their heart, you are still much more alike than you are different, even if you have a different belief or opinion.
Those that were just lost were mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, sons, and daughters. They weren’t others. It doesn’t matter what color or religion or political party they belong to, does it?
Promise me you won’t allow yourself to be divided, even when powerful forces work hard to separate us. The antidote to hate is not, never has been, and never will be greater hate. The antidote to hate is love, compassion, and understanding.
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