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Yesterday the Associated Press ran a remarkable newspaper story called “Muslims, Jews Strengthen Bonds Amid Acts of Bigotry.”
The first few paragraphs of the story said:
They sat on either end of the congressman’s couch, one a Jewish healthcare executive whose parents fled Germany in 1936, the other the Kashmiri Muslim chairman of a well-known American furniture chain. The men, Stanley Bergman and Farooq Kathwari, came to draw attention to an outbreak of hate crimes. But Bergman and Kathwari hoped their joint appearance would also send a broader message: that U.S. Jews and Muslims could put aside differences and work together.
The men lead the Muslim-Jewish Advisory Council, created last year by the American Jewish Committee and the Islamic Society of North America, amid a flowering of alliances between members of the two faiths. U.S. Muslim and Jewish groups have been trying for years to make common cause with mixed success, often derailed by deep divisions over Israel and the Palestinians.
But bigoted rhetoric and harassment targeting both religions since the presidential election has drawn people together. Jews have donated to repair mosques that were defaced or burned. Muslims raised money to repair vandalized Jewish cemeteries. – Rachel Zoll, The Associated Press, March 21, 2017.
Have you noticed these developments lately? Just about every day, another news story recounts some new effort toward unity and cooperation between former foes. If you haven’t seen these stories, look beyond the negative headlines and the dire tidings on the front-page—that’s where you’ll usually find the best news, buried deep in the inner sections of the paper, or the far corners of the Web. Anyway, it seems that increased persecution, hate speech and attacks on people, buildings and cemeteries have all resulted in an increasing number of displays of love and unity. Who knew?
This trend toward recognizing our fundamental human unity has been building for a while now. What a heartening development—exactly what the Baha’i teachings call for:
In every dispensation, there hath been the commandment of fellowship and love, but it was a commandment limited to the community of those in mutual agreement, not to the dissident foe. In this wondrous age, however, praised be God, the commandments of God are not delimited, not restricted to any one group of people, rather have all the friends been commanded to show forth fellowship and love, consideration and generosity and loving-kindness to every community on earth. – Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, pp. 20-21.
After all, no matter what we believe, we’re all part of the human family. An attack on any one of us, of any faith, is an attack on our family.
If we truly saw the entire world that way, as members of our immediate family, what would it change? Give it some thought—what would you do, for instance, if someone defaced your next-door neighbor’s house with racist or anti-religious graffiti? What would you do if someone publicly insulted and demeaned your best friend’s Faith? What would you do if government policies singled out one religion as evil or illegal?
All of these things have happened recently in multiple places around the world, and in each case, defenders of equality and justice have come to the defense of others—despite the fact that they may have a different religion or skin color or culture.
That, my friends, is a wonderful and very heartening development:
Know ye the value of this time. Strive ye with all your hearts, raise up your voices and shout, until this dark world be filled with light, and this narrow place of shadows be widened out, and this dust heap of a fleeting moment be changed into a mirror for the eternal gardens of heaven, and this globe of earth receive its portion of celestial grace.
Then will aggression crumble away, and all that maketh for disunity be destroyed, and the structure of oneness be raised—that the Blessed Tree may cast its shade over east and west, and the Tabernacle of the singleness of man be set up on the high summits, and flags that betoken love and fellowship flutter from their staffs around the world until the sea of truth lift high its waves, and earth bring forth the roses and sweet herbs of blessings without end …. – Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 36.