Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Love Always Wins

I wrote this as a Letter to the Editor for Charlottesville' paper, the Daily Progress after attending a candle light vigil on our downtown mall in response to the shootings in Orlando.

I had just finished leading worship in the congregation I serve when I learned of the atrocity that had taken place in Orlando just a relatively few hours before.  The topic of my sermon was love – that no matter how simple it might sound, wise teachers from every religious tradition have stressed that “doing unto others,” that “loving our neighbor,” is the only needed guide for how to live in this world.  Rabbi Hillel the Elder famously said that everything else in the Torah, the Law, and the Prophets was simply commentary and explanation of this central teaching, and Jesus (a near contemporary of Hillel’s) said much the same, as did the Prophet Muhammad.  Every religious tradition we humans have ever created has its own version of the “Golden Rule.”  And yet, in the aftermath of the mass murder of 49 people, the serious wounding of 53 others, and the devastation to  countless lives of families and friends and all those touched by this tragedy, this message of love seemed not just simple, but simplistic.

What a gift, then, to gather on Monday night with hundreds of others at the Free Speech Wall to mourn, express our shock, give vent to our outrage, and recommit ourselves to one another and to the vision of Beloved Community.  And we were a beautiful representation of that Beloved Community – we were gay, straight, bisexual, transgender, cisgender, Latino/a, African American, Asian American, White, Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Jew, Atheist, Unitarian Universalist, old, young, radical, reticent, and virtually every other description of person you could think of.  We were what the United States looks like at its best – a beautiful, swirling rainbow of differences that came together to reveal an even more beautiful unity.  The acts of hate-filled violence, and the violence-tinged hate speech that is all too prevalent in our political discourse lately, may cause us to question our faith in humanity.  The vision of community made real on Monday night restored my faith, and renews my hope. 

Pax tecum,


While at the Freedom of Speech Wall we were told that following each of the annual C'ville Pride Festivals
there have been reports of someone being fired from their job because their boss or employer had seen their photograph
in the next day's paper.  This, then, is a photo (from the back) of a small portion of the hundreds who attended the vigil
and then walked with lighted candles to the Federal Courthouse building.

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1 comment:

arthurrashap said...

Yes, this process, this grieving, this examination is important and not to be dismissed.
And, on the other hand, what I read here - what I read elsewhere, what I see and hear on the media is this siloization, this dividing of "We the People" into all kinds of categories, sub-categories, and more.

The "do unto others" has, in my opinion and belief, this message: "We are One, so whatever I do to another is doing it to myself and to the rest of those who make up this Oneness." Love is the connector and the envelop and the sustainer.

We come together - we being all the people - in crisis times: during WWII, after 9/11; after the passing of loved ones. We also come together in times of great joy - weddings, births,graduations, Sunday or other days when we come together as a congregation.

Please, consider working as you can to empty the silos of separation and let us convene as ONE here, now, with love as our nourishment and glue.

Arthur Rashap