Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Why can’t we all just get along ?

On the third day of the Los Angeles riots of 1992, the late Rodney King (who was, arguably, the root cause of the riots) held a news conference in front of his lawyer’s office on May 1, and tearfully said, “people, I just want to say, you know, can we all get along?”. The Marines and the 7th Infantry moved into the city the next day, and order was quickly restored, although troops remained in Los Angeles until as late as May 27.

Even today, tensions still exist between “people of color” and white police officers, although significant progress has been made in that area since the Los Angeles riots. Apart from race relations and politics, few topics cause as much inflamed debate as religion. When politics and religion are combined, truly crazy (but deeply religious) people like the people pictured below get elected to office, and foolish laws (like Indiana’s SB 101) get signed into law.

(The man on the top is Texas representative Louis Gohmert, and the woman at the bottom is Arizona state senator Sylvia Allen).

Since religion can be such a volatile topic, it may surprise you to know that efforts at working together date back as far as 1893, when the World’s Parliament of Religions met during the World Columbian Exposition in Chicago. In 1993, the now-titled Parliament of World Religions returned to Chicago, and attracted over 8000 people of various religions from all over the world.

Subsequent to the 1993 conference, meetings have been held in 1999, 2004, 2007, 2009, and 2014. The Parliament will return to the United States on October 15-19, and will be held in Salt Lake City.

My wife and I have been inside the Baha’i temple in Wilmette, Illinois on a number of occasions, and we have friends who have been Baha’is for a number of years.

The video below was produced by their daughter last fall (she has worked at the Baha’i temple for a number of years) and will be shown at the 2015 Parliament in Salt Lake City.

Kari’s video

Although I won’t be attending the conference in Salt Lake City, I DID attend an inter-faith Thanksgiving service in Evanston, Illinois in the fall of 2010, which caused me to have Northwestern chaplain Tahera Ahmad (a devout Muslim) get invited to give a talk at the Lutheran church that I was attending at the time.

There are always going to be a few of our fellow Americans who firmly believe that ALL Muslims are killers, and there will always be conservative Roman Catholics who feel that the current Pope “isn’t playing by the rules” because he is too compassionate, but I hope that somehow, and sometime, a lot more of the people of the world will come to respect each other’s religious beliefs (or lack thereof) instead of demonizing them. When (and if) that every happens, we’ll finally achieve true peace in the world, and we won’t have to wait for “the rapture” to enjoy it.

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