Let us reach deep into our own well of faith and spirit

The Taos News - - FAVOR Y CONTRA - By Jona Ols­son Jona Ols­son is di­rec­tor of Cul­tural Bridges to Jus­tice, cul­tur­al­bridgesto­jus­tice.org, and as­sis­tant chief of the Vol­un­teer Fire Depart­ment.

Here in North­ern New Mex­ico, let us all be ca­pa­ble of crit­i­cal thought and wise enough to rec­og­nize that the hate, big­otry and vi­o­lence by a few who com­mit their de­spi­ca­ble acts in the name of Al­lah, or Christ, or the Bud­dha, do not rep­re­sent the mil­lions of Mus­lims, Chris­tians, Jews, Bud­dhists, Hin­dus, Wic­cans and other faith­ful who live lives of care, com­pas­sion, ser­vice and love.

In 2018, over 200 dif­fer­ent eth­nic, racial, spir­i­tual and so­cial groups call U. S. North Amer­ica home. In­cluded are many dozen forms of spir­i­tual ex­pres­sion that ex­isted on these shores be­fore white col­o­niza­tion and Chris­tian­iza­tion. Many oth­ers were dragged to these shores un­will­ingly. Mil­lions more came to the U. S. to es­cape re­li­gious per­se­cu­tion in their home coun­try.

Most of the faith­ful ad­here to the tenets of their faith, seek­ing and of­ten find­ing guid­ance, so­lace and hope in their sa­cred texts. Whether it is the Bi­ble, To­rah, Qu­ran or su­tra, all of­fer mes­sages of peace, love and com­pas­sion.

Sadly ex­trem­ists, of­ten a fun­da­men­tal­ist few, of ev­ery reli­gion, ex­ist. Some mis­rep­re­sent, twist and dis­tort the words and sa­cred teach­ings to jus­tify their own per­sonal or po­lit­i­cal agenda. Oth­ers are more sus­cep­ti­ble, even cog­ni­tively in­ca­pable of rec­og­niz­ing the dis­tor­tions, and can be­come ra­bid fol­low­ers, led by charis­matic voices who preach dis­dain, not re­spect; vi­o­lence, not peace; and hate, not love.

Self-pro­claimed Chris­tians, USA born and bred, white na­tion­al­ist, hate groups com­mit horrible acts of abuse and ter­ror­ism in the name of Christ. While twist­ing the words of the Qu­ran to jus­tify their crimes, a tiny per­cent­age of self-named Mus­lims com­mit vi­o­lent acts in this and other na­tions. Although non-vi­o­lence is cen­tral to Bud­dhist teach­ings, Bud­dhist lead­ers in Myan­mar vi­o­lently per­se­cute the Ro­hingya peo­ple, who are Mus­lim.

All who spew hate or com­mit vi­o­lence in the name of their reli­gion only dis­grace their reli­gion. They prac­tice big­otry and ex­trem­ism. They serve hate, not spirit.

We can­not let a warped, poi­soned few taint an en­tire peo­ple or spir­i­tu­al­ity. Let us each reach deep into our own well of faith and spirit, and draw on the balm of peace and love to be found there. Latir

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