I have to begin by saying that I do not attach myself to any particular religion at this point in my life. I was born and raised Catholic, later became a somewhat “Born Again” Christian, then later began my studies as a student of Buddhism. The most recent evolution has been investigative studies into the Jain religion.
What I have come to see through all of this, is the commonalities between all of these. Yet there also some very notable differences. A major one being the idea of “love thy neighbor”. Christians overall seem to have a pretty lax view of how this applies to all living beings. Buddhists, on the other hand, teach loving kindness toward all living beings. Jains take things the furthest, and teach “Do no harm”. Period! This means they believe in not only being strict Vegan, but will not even eat root vegetables. The reasoning behind it being that you kill that living thing when you eat the root. Where as a vegetable the bears fruit, will continue to live and produce.
Despite these differences, the commonalities do remain strong. And the message of love, kindness and compassion are woven throughout all of their texts.
But now is where the rubber meets the road as they say. Many followers of these practices/religions believe that it is most appropriate to remain silent and mindful in the face of violence, cruelty, racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. And it’s at this point that I “walk into the bar” and shake it up!
I do not subscribe to the idea of compassion without action. History has proven that the only way to bring about changing injustices in the World is through non-violent action and protest. And this current election cycle has cast a spotlight and so many disturbing inequalities, racism and hatred in the United States. I do not, cannot, and will not sit idly by while people of color, women, the LGBTQ community and our planet are attacked and assaulted. Even though at times it seems I am helpless to change this, I know that I have a voice. And I am very aware that my voice is not the only one. Over half of this country feels as I do, that we need to mature as a nation. To respect one another regardless of race, politics, religion, gender or sexual orientation. For our “loving kindness”, our “do no harm”, and our “love thy neighbor” foundations to be applied universally and for the good of the entire World. And each one of us count! Our voice, or actions, and our determination is what will make this a better place today and for future generations.
I plead with each of you to be a voice. To take a stand for your brothers and sisters, and for yourself and your children.
And remember that being a good christian, jew, muslim, buddhist, Jain or atheist, does not mean to sit on the sidelines while other living beings are harmed and mistreated. In fact it’s the polar opposite. We all have the ability and obligation to live a life filled with compassion in action.