At this time of year, when there is much talk of peace on earth, I would like to put out a call for a broader, deeper peace, one that crosses all borders and boundaries. In our wishes for goodwill for the holidays and aspirations for the year to come, let us all make an effort to make our desire for peace to be radically inclusive, and send it out to everyone on the planet.
I would like to cite some very wise words written by Reza Aslan, a professor of creative writing at the University of California, Riverside, that I read last October in a New York Times editorial entitled “Misunderstanding Religion.” Ms. Aslan said this:
“It is a fallacy to believe that people of faith derive their values primarily from their Scriptures. The opposite is true. People of faith insert their values into their Scriptures, reading them through the lens of their own cultural, ethnic, nationalistic and even political perspectives.”
In a world that remains rife with conflict, it behooves us all to remember that any quotes or text, from any religious or spiritual foundation, carries its meaning through a cultural interpretation, and not from a basis of absolute truth. Some scripture is truer than others—particularly that which was said, written and/or interpreted in a context of peace. This year, let’s choose the ones with the broadest and most compassionate understanding, the ones least likely to be misunderstood in a cultural context.
In choosing any words to live by or to set standards for a year to come, we are best served by enlarging our perspective. Can we, this time around, forget about our gender, ethnicity, nationality and religion? Could we possibly not only recognize and respect all these diverse viewpoints, but actually embrace them, bringing them fully into our expanded belief system?
I think we can do just that. The maturing of a culture means that it increasingly finds ways to broaden its base. The maturing of an individual brings a willingness to listen and to lighten our attachments to what and who we think we are. We are all just simple human beings, sharing one planet with one hope: to live in peace and prosperity. In order to make that happen this year, let us all make an effort to open our culture, and therefore our interpretations of any wise words, so that we include everyone, everywhere. True peace arises from a culture so broad and diverse that divisions of all kinds disappear. Let us be one. One world. Living in true Peace.