Sunday, December 25, 2005

Merry Christmas

This is my Holiday Edition of my monthly column in YC Magazine, a local free monthly.

Happy Holidays everyone. See you next week.

Why care?

Smart, successful people don’t discuss politics or religion in public. I guess discussing politics and religion is even more foolish. That’s what I am going to try to do.

These observations are mine, not the York County Greens. The publishers of YC Magazine were kind enough to allow this essay to be a personal one. I am grateful to them for the opportunity.

Faith is belief in the unseen. Jesus, once you get past about fifth grade, is no longer a young white man with a beard. He is the Prince of Peace. He is Love. As Marianne Williamson wrote, “Love is what we are born with. Fear is what we learn.”

I see the world through Christian eyes. I was born a Christian. I spent many years as an agnostic. I casually studied and learned respect for a number of religions. I believe that most of the world’s religions teach many of the same ideas. Peace seems a universal value. Protecting the poor and weak from the rich and powerful appears frequently. Respecting the future and leaving a legacy of improvement runs thorough many faiths. We are often admonished that the planet is God’s, not man’s.

With all this evidence of what God wants from us, we continue to turn from His plan and to working for our own purposes. A politician more concerned about an unneeded highway that will carry her name than a training program that will bring economic salvation to a family. A corporate lawyer lobbying for special tax breaks. A community leader willing to sell out a neighboring state to steal away their jobs. An educator willing to set aside the student’s needs to curry favor with federal authorities and the dollars that flow from Washington. All these, and many more, are the sort of human failings all religions and ethical systems warn us against.

Instead of addressing these sorts of fundamental issues, many people of faith get caught up in seeing the rules and regulations in their faiths as the central theme. Albert Einstein said “Man would indeed be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear of punishment and hope of reward after death.” The message of Love embodied in every faith is not “Love so you can go to heaven” or “Love so you don’t go to hell” but “Love, for God loves you.”

So, with all we have been given by faith that compels us to Peace, Understanding, and Love, why is there so much War, Intolerance and Hate? It’s been suggested that there is no anger, hatred, suspicion and jealousy, only fear. Everything else is just fear in a different set of clothes.

If this is true, what is it that we are afraid of, and how can we overcome this fear? To replace something as fundamental as fear we must have something as fundamental, but more powerful. There is only one thing I can point to that has the potential power to overcome fear, and that is love.

So, how does government implement Love? It can’t, which is part of why government should play no role in religion.

The holiday season brings hope for peace and justice. Greens of all faiths, and no faith, believe in the power of love. For many of us, this belief moves us to political action. Not to make us love one another, but to make love more possible. The call to love our enemies is radical. How much more radical is the lesson of the Good Samaritan, to let our enemies love us!

I guess I’d like to close with this observation. Every spiritual text that has a significant faith community behind it calls for love, fairness, human dignity, peace and charity. No one can seriously believe that our government is doing enough to improve the lot of the world’s poor and hurting. Are we really doing what we are called to do, or are we doing what we want to do? As Henry Thoreau said, “There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root.”

Are we hacking at branches, or are we striking at the root?
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