Peace be in you. Peace be through you.
I feel a great urge for peace today. I am thinking about some of the wise and kind people that I have met, and the way I felt when I was near them. There are people of the book(s). There are people of people, so to speak. There are people of the cosmos. Each have their strengths and blind spots, but they share some things in common.
Such people seem to leave sparkles of light wherever they go. And some of them don’t even know it.
Caring and love are much better than hatred and fear, creating a better world for everyone.
It seems so bizarre to me to feel the need to restate what I would think should be blindingly obvious: The lust for power (with all its accompanying hatred, violence, fear, and greed) is not a religious virtue.
There is a kind of mirroring between the radical pseudo-Christians of dominionism and the radical Islamicists. Both groups of hardline zealots appear – almost paradoxically – damaged, hurt and fearful. They don’t have the courage to accept others for what they are and let God be the judge. The very capacity for compassion and respectful relations with others seems stunted. Perhaps they fight to ward off fear, or in desperation, or simply from a lack of better models and leaders. Perhaps they are angry about real experiences, and perhaps some of them have valid complaints that should be discussed more openly in the public sphere.
But they claim God’s judgment for their own, and that is not a virtue in either Islam or Christianity.
Both political movements (let’s just admit that they are more political than religious, shall we?) seem very interested in earthly power, even to the point of murder and war. They have national interests. They seem very comfortable believing that they have an exclusive connection to God, and that they can speak with God’s authority.
They practice domination… and I think that pretty much explains why the big fight for the Christian (de-)”con”structionists (it can’t be “Reconstruction” if you think about it) is to display the ten commandments instead of, say, the sermon on the mount. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God” (Matthew 5:9).
I’m not someone who relies on scriptural texts for my sense of ethics or for my relationship with God (there are many reasons for that, and perhaps I’ll explain my reasoning on another occasion).
Nonetheless, there are lots and lots and lots of people who feel that their sacred books are vitally, even supremely, important. These cousins – Jews, Christians, and Muslims – are collectively “the people of the book.”
So let’s review some points from some of their sacred texts.
Pick your own translation – and sure, your in-group’s interpretation if you know it – and chew on some of this.
The Qur’an (also known by the spelling Koran)
Fight in the way of Allah against those who fight against you, but begin not hostilities. Lo! Allah loveth not aggressors.
Do not say to one who offers you peace, “You are not a believer,” seeking the spoils of this life. For God has abundant treasure. You used to be like them, after all, and then God blessed you.
Oh you who believe, stand up firmly for justice, as witnesses to God, even if it be against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin, and whether it be against rich or poor; for God can best protect both. Do not follow any passion, lest you not be just. And if you distort or decline to do justice, verily God is well-acquainted with all that you do.’
If it had been thy Lord’s Will, they would all have believed, all who are on earth! Wilt thou then compel mankind, against their will, to believe!
Those who act kindly in this world will have kindness.
Goodness and evil are not equal. Repel evil with what is better. Then that person with whom there was hatred, may become your intimate friend! And no one will be granted such goodness
except those who exercise patience and self-restraint, none but people of the greatest good fortune.
It may be that God will grant love (and friendship) between you and those whom ye (now) hold as enemies. For God has power (over all things), and God is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. God does not forbid you, with regard to those who fight you not for (your) faith nor drive you out of your homes, from dealing kindly and justly with them: for God loves those who are just.
Our Lord! Perfect our light for us and forgive us our sins, for verily You have power over all things.
The Prophet once saw a funeral procession passing by a street in Madina. The Prophet was seated at that time. On seeing the funeral, the Prophet stood up in respect. At this one of his companions said: ‘O Prophet, it was the funeral of a Jew (not a Muslim).’ The Prophet replied: ‘Was he not a human being?’
Peace be upon you.
The Bible: The Christian Scriptures (under the new law of the Christ)
My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.
Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
And as he sat at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Jesus and the disciples. And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” But when he heard it, he said, “Those
who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’
Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me. They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ “He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ love those who love them. Ad if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ lend to ‘sinners,’ expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
An argument started among the disciples as to which of them would be the greatest. Jesus, knowing their thoughts, took a little child and had him stand beside him. Then he said to them, ‘Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. For he who is least among you all—he is the greatest.’
And he sent messengers on ahead, who went into a Samaritan village to get things ready for him; but the people there did not welcome him, because he was heading for Jerusalem. When the disciples James and John saw this, they asked, ‘Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?’ But Jesus turned and rebuked them, And he said, ‘You do not know what kind of spirit you are of, for the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.’ And they went to another village.
When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple courts he found men selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple area, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. To those who sold doves he said, ‘Get these out of here! How dare you turn my Father’s house into a market!’
Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own? No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money. The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this and were sneering at Jesus. He said to them, ‘You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of men, but God knows your hearts. What is highly valued among men is detestable in God’s sight.’
Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.
If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless. Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
Peace be with you.
The Bible: The Hebrew Scriptures (under the law of the Convenant)
For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty and the terrible God, who is not partial and takes no bribe. He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing.
May the Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace.
My people come to you, as they usually do, and sit before you to listen to your words, but they do not put them into practice. With their mouths they express devotion, but their hearts are greedy for unjust gain.
The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. The Lord is good to all, and his compassion is over all that he has made.
My son, if sinners entice you,
do not consent.
If they say, “Come with us, let us lie in wait for blood,
let us wantonly ambush the innocent;
like Sheol let us swallow them alive
and whole, like those who go down to the Pit;
we shall find all precious goods,
we shall fill our houses with spoil;
throw in your lot among us,
we will all have one purse”–
my son, do not walk in the way with them,
hold back your foot from their paths;
for their feet run to evil,
and they make haste to shed blood.
The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace.’
He will judge between many peoples and will settle disputes for strong nations far and wide. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore. Every man will sit under his own vine and under his own fig tree, and no one will make them afraid, for the LORD Almighty has spoken. All the nations may walk in the name of their gods; we will walk in the name of the LORD our God for ever and ever.
Intolerance lies at the core of evil.
Not the intolerance that results from any threat or danger.
But intolerance of another being who dares to exist.
Intolerance without cause. It is so deep within us,
because every human being secretly desires
the entire universe to himself.
Our only way out is to learn
compassion without cause. To care for each other
simple because that ‘other’ exists.
- Rabbi Menachem Mendle
Peace be in you. Peace be through you.