Note to Self:

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Coexistence

On the 9th anniversary of 9/11 I pray for not only the people lost in the tragic event and the grieving family members that were left behind, but also for our nation and the world as a whole. I truly believe that our only hope for self-preservation--opposed to self-annihilation--is to coexist with one another. So on this day I also pray for world peace. 

6 comments:

DanT said...

As an atheist, I too hope that mankind finds the grace and charity within to exhibit the tolerance necessary for the treacherous times.

the_big_smile said...

Hi Joe!

For about 1 1/2 weeks I've been thinking about a post on my blog. After I realized that my post is kind of an comment to your 9/11 post, I wrote it today.
Have a look here: http://yuba-mundo.blogspot.com/2010/09/einssein.html

Joe said...

Dan, thanks...I agree...coexistence is crucial in these turbulent times.

Joe said...

Big Smile, Thanks for the comments and link on your blog. I agree totally. I do not speak Deutsch so I had to have it translated :)

Love your blog btw.

Andy in Germany said...

Hmm...

We've already talked about stuff like this before, so you'll not be suprised that I agree... up to a point.

I'll agree that we need to 'co-exist' in the sense that we respect each other and most certainly that we don't try and force people to live according to our 'creed'. My concern is that things like 'tolerance' and 'coesist' are themselves a creed, in that they can be a belief that we are asking people to abide by, even if they don't agree. Of course you could argue that we need to do this to survive and avoid more wars over ideas. I can see that... again, to a point.

A few years ago I was working on a short term placement in the Himalaya. The local religions were Tibettan Bhuddism, Hinduism, and Taoism, Animism and some chinese influences like conficianism: in other words, a rich tapestry of overlaid beliefs. In our village the school teacher happened to be Bhuddist, but most of the families were more Hindu/Animist, and lovely people they were too.

Except when the 'untouchable' childen were about. I'm sure you're familiar with the caste system and its history so I won't go into it here, but the upshot was that the untouchable caste had to work for everyone else, ant the children couldn't go to school, and if they went to any other houses they were chased out or pelted with sticks and stones until they left.

One of the things we did was have a time when they could come and play, get cleaned up, and we'd try and look after basic madical problems. We had a medical people in the team to do this.

When the local school teacher found this out, he closed the school and told the students to go and chase the children away from us.

Notice we were not preaching at anyone, although it was known we were a Christian group, we were not demanding that people of the Hindu faith touch people they felt were unclean, but we were simply helping people we saw were in need.

This, I would also add, was an isolated example because in other schools we were invited in to be with the children and help the schools fight the traficking of the girls to cities in India to work as slave-prostotutes.

We could have coexisted and avoided doing that again, but the children needed someone to help them, and it was a choice of annoying someone or putting the creed of coexistence above people.

We had a similar experience with my Japanese inlaws who we love very much and who I respect highly. We happened to be in Japan during the feast of Obon, and decided that our family wouldn't take part in the celebrations. We were not demanding the celebration be cancelled, or that others refuse to participate, simply that after we felt it was better for us and our and children not to be involved.

We got two reactions: the family members who attended church regularly were furious and felt we wetre accusing them. Family members who did not attend church quietly came later to say thankyou because they found it difficult to step out of the tradition even though they wanted to.

My concern with the idea of 'co-exist' and 'tolerance' is that they sound good, and to some extent they are a good idea: I certainly don't want a return to the western christianity that marched over the world trying to make copies of western churches, but coexisting can be an absolute statement, and can be used to force people to follow our way of doing things.

Ironically I since was thrown out of the organisation I worked for in the Himalaya, partly because I refused to do their style of 'evangelism' which seemed to mostly be about shouting at people.

I don't think Jesus had a creed, or offered one. I think he had a relationship with God, and offers a relationship to us. People were important to him, not creeds. He certainly didn't get on well with religious people, and I suspect he'd be killed in many of our churches as well.

That's what I think. Of course, I could be dead wrong.

Joe said...

Andy, Thanks for your thoughtful and insightful comments. And I couldn't agree more that there are and probably always will be cruel injustices in the world...it is so deep seated in cultural mentality. I also know that sometimes I have a rather Utopian view of things. What prompted me to post this was the lates influx of Islamophobia surrounding 9/11...the hatred is incredible. And most of this hatred is from so-called Christians. And I also agree that Jesus did not have a creed...and he certainly wasn't a Christian, at least not the way some people make him out to be. His message was love...to love God with all your mind and heart, and to love your neighbor as yourself. I'm really concerned what it's going to be like next year, the tenth anniversary of 9/11. In the meantime I believe it is up to each one of us on a personal level to make a difference. A journey starts with a single step. My favorite quote by Mahatma Gahndi, "Be the change you want to see." Thanks again for the comments.