Thursday, September 13, 2007

This Rosh Hashonah

I think the world will be a safer, saner place if all leaders, and all people, from every nation, can agree to:

1) Respect the sovereignty of other countries regardless of whether or not they agree with their ideology.

2) Make space for difference, and allow for autonomy. Palestine deserves its own state as does Israel. No one state is more worthy, or more deserving.

3) Recognize that an act of violence is never righteous whatever the cause, or intended goal. Whether it's Israeli missiles destroying parts of Beirut, killing and maiming innocent men, women, and children, or whether it's the rockets of Hezbollah. Human rights, and the dignity of each and every human being, must take precedence over what is erroneously called "national security." Warfare is a retreat from civilization, and not a sanctuary for it. There can be no security when the lives of a country's citizens are daily put at risk in the name of making the world safe for this cause or that.

4) Diplomacy can only be achieved through compromise, not contempt. Without diplomacy, there can be no lasting peace.

Whether we be Muslim, Christian, Jew, Buddhist, agnostic, or atheist, we all share a common thread--the need for space, vision, and a reason to live. When we shed the blood of others, regardless of the reason, we shed the blood of our ancestors, our sisters and brothers, and those yet to come. There can be no respect for the sanctity of human life in an atmosphere of combat, and terror.

So, to my friends in Israel I say: if you want peace, accept Palestine, and treat your Arab brothers and sisters as members of your family, not as your enemies, but as future friends.

To Muslims in America, and around the world, I say: do not deny the Holocaust, nor the onslaught of punishment the Jews have endured including, of course, that most celebrated of Jews, Jesus Christ, who was crucified, and lives on as a testament to the horrors to which all Jews have been subjected.

To Christians, I say: those temptations we need to overcome most are not temptations of the flesh, but the perennial urge to scapegoat, and target those who are most vulnerable, and accessible to mob rage. The higher order thinking of the New Testament----forgiveness, compassion, the "judge not lest ye be judged" mentality is needed now more than ever. Those who call for the annihilation, execution, or murder of others, whether it be on the battlefield, or in a state penitentiary, profane in His name.

As a world, we have advanced far beyond the capacity of anyone living even as recently as a century ago could have imagined. We can fly to Mars; we can communicate instantly with people thousands of miles away, still, we have thousands, in Africa, who die of starvation; still we fight for territory that can easily, and justly, be shared.

At its root, nationalism is the perversion of individualism and, more often than not, individualism is narcissism disguised. Intolerance is a mushroom cloud from which no one will escape.

While global warming poses a huge threat, a more immediate danger to the survival of the planet comes from the proliferation of nuclear weapons, and their imminent use. Only respect for autonomy. and self-determination, as well as the ability to appreciate, not condemn, that which is different will prevent a war from which no one will be left to plant a flag.