Step 1: Coexist?

I received several comments–both here and on Facebook–about my post yesterday. I wrote that the Coexist bumper sticker makes me bristle a bit. I muddied my main point by introducing a side note that distracted. For that reason, I offer this clarification. 


My core problem with the message that various religions, faiths, or spiritual groups should coexist, is that coexisting is not enough. We need to be actively engaged together where we have commonalities. For example, most religions or belief systems have a variation on what Christians commonly call the Golden Rule:  In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets (Matthew 7:12 NRSV). The Muslim holy text is similar, Not one of you is a believer until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself (Fortieth Hadith of an-Nawawi, 13). The Buddhist writing, Udana-Varga, 5:18, also has a variation, “Hurt not others in ways you yourself would find hurtful.” Baha’i, Confucianism, Hinduism, Jainism, Judaism, Native American spirituality, Sikhism, Taoism, and Zoroastrianism each have variations in important writings. What would it be like if we worked side by side with our interfaith kindred in bettering the world which we all share?


Perhaps as one commenter suggested simply coexisting may be an improvement on the current state of affairs. She probably is right. Coexistence is a good first step and may be the place to start. I have a bigger hope, however. I believe our interconnectedness makes it possible for us to be actively engaged together in making the world we share a better place.

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