Friday, December 25, 2015

Dear Politicians ... I Forgive You

As we enter a most contentious year in Presidential politics, I express my forgiveness, reflect upon our shared values, and then ask a question.

In the heat of a political campaign, operating many times without a script, you say things that are hurtful – to women, to minorities, to those of certain religious faiths.

I forgive you.

I hope what you say does not reflect your actual views. But you elaborate, and you repeat prior statements made, and you at times refuse to apologize or retreat. Hence, I get the sense that it is most likely that your statements do, in fact, reflect your view of the world.

I forgive you.

Perhaps you do not know the long-forgotten wounds you are opening, the fears you are stoking, and the divisions you are creating.

I forgive you.

Do you embrace the worldly values of wealth, power, pleasure, revenge, fame, vanity and status, above all else?

If so, I forgive you.

For I embrace the Christian values of kindness and respect for all people instead of power, of humility instead of status, of honesty and generosity instead of wealth, of self-control instead of self-indulgence, and of forgiveness instead of revenge

And I also embrace the Muslin values that teach us that person cannot be a complete believer unless he loves for his brother what he loves for himself, that one should not harm himself or others, and that self-control should be exercised to overcome temptation.

And I also embrace the Jewish values, including the need to treat others with kindness regardless of their beliefs, the commitment to justice and social equality, and the need for acts of kindness in order that others may live life with dignity.

And I also embrace the universal values of love and peace, and I embrace the Golden Rule. Expressed in Christianity as “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.” (Matthew 7:12, King James Version.) Expressed in Islam as: “None of you [truly] believes until he wishes for his brother what he wishes for himself.” Number 13 of Imam “Al-Nawawi's Forty Hadiths.” Expressed in Judaism as “...thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself” (Leviticus 19:18) and as “What is hateful to you, do not to your fellow man. This is the law: all the rest is commentary.” (Talmud, Shabbat 31a.)

And I also embrace the Golden Rule as it is also portrayed in Buddhism: “Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful.” (Udana-Varga 5:18.) And in Hinduism: “This is the sum of duty: do not do to others what would cause pain if done to you.” (Mahabharata 5:1517).

I embrace as well our American values – freedom of speech, freedom of religion, equality, our openness to new ideas, our tolerance of others and their beliefs, and our ability to forgive one another.

Do you?

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