Thursday, July 21, 2005

Our Common Place

Today in our world, our nation and clearly in our city we experience a discomforting emphasis on our differences. Differences in ethnicity and race, differences in national identification, differences in political sensitivities and affiliations, competitive differences in gender, in level of income, in age and differences in religion and moral and ethical beliefs.

In every major belief system however the need to recognize our wholeness and our oneness is heavily stressed. Surely the central message of Christ is clear in this regard as He directs us to "Love one another as I have loved you," and "To love your neighbor as yourself," and "Whatever you do for the least of these you do for me." Similar guidance may be found in Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism and in Native American traditions.

It seems that our essential oneness is beautifully celebrated in an embracing greeting engraved on that beautiful lady who stands guard in New York Harbor, our Statue of Liberty.

It says, "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me. I lift my lamp beside the golden door."

What a great contrast this beautiful greeting strikes with the vicious, in some cases armed resistance offered today to fight off those who wish a better life across our borders. We have almost demonized the term "Illegal Alien." Consistent with our faith, are these not our brothers and sisters we are talking about? Sure there needs to be care and planning in opening our borders but should our top determinants be extracted from economic and capitalistic interests?

Should we live with the illusion we can effectively seal our borders against "9-11" type enemies no matter how many agents we assign there? Don't we have to awaken to the reality that the dissolution of hate can only occur through new understandings, communication and mutual effort in support of common life goals? This means the production of more rice and wheat and fewer land mines and smart bombs.

There is no nuclear defense without peace and international cooperation and compromise. Nuclear monopoly and control is an ugly illusion impossible to enforce.

Years ago, weary of the eye searing smog of Los Angeles I moved with clear joy to the clean skies of Lompoc. The air smelled sweet. Still does. I had a business in LA I wanted to continue and so have been commuting to LA each Monday and back on Tuesday evening. Sometime back as I made the return to Lompoc I thought to myself I wonder where the line is that separates dirty LA air from clean Lompoc air.

After a bit of reflection I finally woke up. There is none. One is ultimately only as good as the other. Sure we have temporary relief but we're in this together. Sooner or later they mix and we have a common quality. Either clean or polluted. So many things are like that. Water supplies, ozone layers, soil that produces food, diseases, medicines, profits, losses, education, there is no safe zone. We are in this together. Building star wars defense systems and being convinced we can build shields against sectarian hate is the same as believing we can build air shields against L.A. pollution along Route 101.

We need to wake up in time, consistent with the title of Peter Russell's great book. We need to share more of our abundance and do it more indiscriminately.

We must recognize our common interests and work toward the common good. Republicans, Democrats and others need to set aside differences in these vitally important times and recognize the value of a new closing appeal. "God bless not only America, but all people everywhere."


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