As we remember, may we also unite
The Golden Rule is the principle of treating others as one’s self would wish to be treated. It is a maxim that is found in many religions and cultures. It may be worded with slight modifications, but the meaning is the same across all faiths and philosophies: treat others as you expect to be treated. Such a simple idea, and yet so seemingly challenging to integrate.
I write this in the wake of the recent events south of the border that included pipe bombs being delivered to prominent persons with political office or history and the shooting at Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh. Perhaps my colleague who shares this space with me referenced these events last week. But I write before I can read her reflection and prior to the mid-term elections in America. When this is printed, all of the victims of the shooting will have been buried and the results of the elections known. I approach this column with a heavy heart, a burdened soul and with an undercurrent of hope, because regardless of what has transpired on the world stage in the days leading up to today, this is the eve of Remembrance.
Our children and grandchildren may have already acknowledged the significance of this day in observances at school. I will have the honour and privilege of sharing in a service of remembrance tomorrow with the congregation that I currently serve. Veterans will wear uniforms adorned with medals and there will be a current of solemnity and respect that will be more palpable than what is normally experienced in a service. There will be little or no levity in the announcements or in the reflective time. We will listen to Last Post and Reveille and the Piper’s Lament. We will observe two minutes of silence and there will be lumps in throats and tears on cheeks. But there will be a recommitment made to peace in the wake of remembrance and the illusiveness of the dream that seems increasingly prevalent in the climate in which we live.
I count myself among those who believe that the escalation of violence has a direct link to the rhetoric espoused and lack of decorum modelled by the current U.S. president. I rank among those frightened and concerned Canadians who have no desire to travel in the States during these times of uncertainty. Grandchildren may not visit Disneyworld any time soon, and trips to Canadian tourist attractions this past summer came with an element of concern for safety in the wake of motor vehicles being used to mow down the innocent as they congregate and go about their daily duties, tasks and indulgences. And yet we crossed the thresholds nonetheless because to do otherwise is to be ruled by fear and paranoia.
To remain cloistered and afraid flies in the face of those who continue to serve our nation as heroes and heroines in their own right, willing to sacrifice themselves for the good of others. Even as I write I fight the gnawing fear to disclose my personal opinion on who needs to acknowledge, at the very least, complicity in the rise of intolerance. And yet to remain silent is in itself an act of cowardice and complicity. Again such cowardice has no place in my life on the eve of Remembrance.
I know not at this point which majority will have been elected to the House of Representatives in Washington. I anticipate that there will be blame laid for possible losses, or conversely, strutting and prideful posturing and selfaggrandizement for gains made. But I write in hope.
I hope that veterans, survivors and victims of all acts of violence will acknowledge the great cost that ensues when humanity does not live by the Golden Rule. And in humility, will likewise give thanks to whatever deity that the response of most of humanity to acts of terrorism, violence and war is empathy.
In the wake of the assault on the Jewish community in Pittsburgh, persons the world over, and in our community here at home, gathered together in solidarity, grief and hope. United in our abhorrence of such acts of cowardice and violence; heartbroken in its wake and seeming prevalence; and hoping for the day when persons of all faiths, creeds and nations can live together in tolerance, respect and peace.
On this weekend of remembrance may citizens of the world unite together in the prayer and in the anthem, “let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.”