Last Saturday, after a day of sister marches in solidarity with the women’s march in Washington DC., I had the good fortune to hear Imam Jamal Rahman.
Jamal’s lecture was sponsored by our local Jewish temple as he is one of the three Interfaith Amigos. The others are Rabbi Ted Falcon and Rev. Don Mackenzie.
They formed after 9/11 to spread a message of peace through interfaith dialogue. They have written three books and extensively tour the United States and Canada to share their message.
Jamal’s talk was infused with humor but his message was poignant.
He outlined exactly how we could reconnect, re-establish community and heal our divided country and world. And it was this: reach out to the other.
What does the other mean to you?
Think about yourself:
- Your ethnicity
- Cultural Background
- Sexual Orientation
- Religious Affiliation (or non)
- Political Persuasion
The other is something different from you.
It could be someone who has a different color skin, speaks another language, wears a headdress, sari, or sarong, eats meat, or is a strict vegan. A person whose sexual orientation is not the same as yours, or whose religion or political views differ from yours. It might be the homeless person you see everyday as you walk to work.
Jamal encouraged us to get to know this other person on a human level.
Because let’s face it. Underneath the thin layer that is our skin, we are all the same. As Toni Morrison says, we are one race, the human race.
If we can put aside our judgment or bias about what we think someone else may be like and instead reach out to him or her, we may just find we have more in common than we thought.
So who would that other be for you?
If you live in Israel and are Jewish, maybe it’s meeting someone who is Christian or Muslim.
If you live in India, can you talk to a street beggar or visit another house of worship?
If you live in the United States, see if you can reach out to a person in a marginalized group – a refugee, a homeless person, a family who is food insecure. Perhaps it’s time to visit your local synagogue, Baptist church or mosque. Maybe it’s starting a conversation with someone who voted for Donald Trump or Jill Stein.
The goal of this exercise is to get to know someone.
It isn’t to immediately launch into a political, religious or economic conversation. It is simply an act of acknowledgement. Of opening my heart to yours, in recognition that despite outward appearances, we are all one.
The only way to defeat hate is through love.
By building bridges across racial, cultural, ethnic and political divides, we can come together and remember that we are all part of one glorious family.
Isn’t it time?
I hope you’ve identified a person or persons that you're willing to reach out to. For me it’s getting more active with the homeless here in Seattle and meeting people who share a different political opinion than mine.
Take action, start a conversation. Fill your heart with kindness and non-judgment and see what happens!
And let me know how it goes! Leave a comment below.
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