FINDING COMMON GROUND

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This year, 2021, the religious holidays of Passover, Easter and Ramadan all occur within the month of April. These three major religions all trace their origin to a common ancestor, Abraham. They all worship the One True G-d of Abraham, known by many names. They all recognize the person Jesus of Nazareth as a prophet, teacher and healer. This common ground is not insignificant.

There is also a significance in the temporal intersection of these holy observances which are the crux of each religion’s foundation. The Jewish and Muslim calendars are based on a lunar calculation, while the Christian calendar has a solar timetable. Thus, our planet earth and its sun and moon must be in a type of agreement or alignment for all three holidays to occur within the same month.

The observances have something else in common. Each marks a revelation. For Jews, the revelation of the power of the One True G-d in saving G-d’s people from slavery in Egypt and leading them to the Promised Land. For Christians, the One True G-d is again revealed as a redeemer. And Ramadan marks the revelation of the Quran to the prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him.

What do these revelations and this common ground mean to us today?

The United States is slowly emerging from a type of Dark Ages marked by a health pandemic, hatred and violence directed at those who are “different” from the so-called majority, economic distress, increased unemployment, increased housing and food instability and increased wealth in the hands of a few. The nation that claims to be founded on “Christian” principles has disregarded the mandate of the author of those principles.

The command to love G-d and neighbor are numerous throughout the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures. Throughout the Quran runs a similar mandate. One of the most well-known passages comes from the prophet Micah:

He has told you, O mortal, what is good;
    and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
    and to walk humbly with your God?

Micah 6:8

Despite what some may teach, we have more in common than what separates us. It is not enough, however, to acknowledge this common ground. We must actively work to make the foundation of our commonality secure and firm. To paraphrase Dr. Ibram X. Kendi, it is not enough to say that one is not racist. One must actively work against racist policies. That is, one must be anti-racist. One must not give lip service to loving refugees. One must actively work for solutions to the causes of migration and to welcome and support those who seek safety and refuge in this country.

When one looks at recent state legislation, one can still see efforts to divide our population: restrictions on voting rights (Georgia makes it a crime to provide water to voters standing in line);  criminalizing the delivery of medical services to transgender people (Alabama); increasing the sales tax which falls disproportionately on those of low income (West Virginia); easing restrictions on carrying firearms in public places (Alabama, Arkansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Wyoming, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota, West Virginia, Iowa and Texas). All these measures have an adverse effect on the most vulnerable of our population: immigrants, people of color, children, transgender persons, and the poor.

In this month of April, when circumstances combine to bring together three world religions, may we in the United States also come together and honor the teachings of those religions to protect the vulnerable. May we actively work to root out the causes of hatred which result in harm to vulnerable populations and to establish avenues that lead to justice, equality and equity for all.