Holiday Season 2003
Holiday Message to Christian, Muslims, Jews and all fellow human beings
May the end of this Holy Month of Ramadan, Hannukah and Christmas bring blessings to all people. I first offer an apology to Muslims everywhere. People like Falwell and Robertson do not speak for me or for hundreds of millions of other Christians who follow in Jesus's footsteps. Jesus (Yasou' in Arabic, the prince of peace) commanded followers to be kind, to love and never to hate. This love is to extend to all people including enemies. Jesus was thus rightly exalted in Islam as a leading Prophet. At that time, some accepted this message and some did not. Today, we still see hatred and racism from people who profess diverse religions but do not practice them. We see
hatred from those claiming to be Christians (like the evangelical extremists of the brand of Robertson and Falwell). We see it among those claiming to be Jews (essentially all the leadership of Israel, and Jewish settlers/colonists and their apologists in the West). And, yes, we even see it among those claiming to be Muslims (Usama Bin Laden and company).
Hatred leading to violence is not new and it comes from a need to control and prosper at the expense of others. We have seen this in the destruction wrought on native Americans by the Europeans resulting in perhaps tens of millions killed (and those remaining pressed to convert to Cathholicism). We saw it in the European Crusades who butchered Muslims and Jews. We saw it in carpet bombings in Cambodia and Vietnam. We saw it in India in violence between Muslims and Hindus. We saw it in the horrors of the Nazi regime which killed tens of millions of people. We saw it in the ethnic cleansing of non-Jews from Palestine between 1947-1949 and the continuing violent campaign to dispossess non-Jews from their homeland. We saw it in the genocidal sanctions against Iraq that killed over 1.5 million people with over half a million children under the age of 5. We saw it in environmental, economic, and educational racism and the widening economic disparity between rich and poor. Here in the US, we saw it in the internment of Japanese Americans and more recently in the "Patriot act," INS registration requirements directed at Muslims and Arabs, and other assaults on liberty (check with the ACLU for a full list).
But love, plurality and justice were also always there. We saw this in the tolerance and coexistence of various religions in Spain for hundreds of years in a fluorishing Arab/Islamic civilization. We saw it in the International anti-Apartheid movement. We saw it
in the anti-War movement in the 1960's. We saw it in Israeli soldiers and reservists refusing to serve the occupation and brutalization of another people. We saw it in movements in India against British colonial rule and in the US for civil rights. We saw it in the hundreds of Palestinians who sacrificed their lives in non-violent protests. We saw it in recent votes in the UN when 150 countries vote one way and the US, Israel, and two or three other US dependent countries (Marshal Islands, Costa Rica) vote another way. We see it in the respect for life despite the barrage of attempted brainwashing we receive through corporate controlled media. We see it in the charity and good will that the generous American people (of all religious) give. We see it today in the increasingly vocal anti-war movements and in the divestment and boycott campaigns.
I have felt hope and love as a Christian living among the majority Muslims in Palestine half my life and in the other half living in the US among mostly European Americans. I even saw the hope in an occasional kindness to me by an Israeli occupation soldier who went against his peers and standing instructions.
In the Holy Quran we read: "Surely those who believe, and those who are Jews, and the Christians, and the Sabians, whoever believes in God and the Last day and does good, they shall have their reward from their Lord, and there is no fear for them, nor shall they
grieve." (Al-Baqara, Sura 256)
So, in this holiday season, we all have a choice: do good, support plurality and love OR support violence/war and racism. Choosing love, we work to make the Holy Land a demilitarized Zone, allow refugees to go back, and learn to live together in democracy and plurality. We, who claim to be the Children of Abraham, will truly then become a "light unto the nations." This vision of equality and justice is not unrealistic since the alternative is utter self-destruction of this rather small planet. We should choose to live as we deem humans should live even if we cannot change the world. But then again, as Margaret Mead wrote: "Never doubt that a small
group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; Indeed, it?s the only thing that ever has."