Adding or Subtracting? Mulitplying or Dividing? This is particularly relevant today in light of the election turmoil sweeping our political landscape. Our history is rich in diversity since all of us originally came from somewhere else in the world, including our Native American friends who long ago migrated from Asia. The greeting on the Statue of Liberty at the entrance to New York harbor, entreats us to “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” Thus, we are a land of immigrants living in the Land of the Free, and according to our Declaration of Independence, we are all equal. “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Added to that is our First Amendment right to Freedom of Religion guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.
So, how have we come to forget our rich multi-ethnic, multiracial, multi-religious and multicultural heritage and now listen to the insistent drumbeats of fear and divisiveness? A number of our political leaders are calling for more walls, barriers and divisions. Attacks against immigrants, against Muslims, against the LGBT community, against various racial and ethnic groups, and even against women are rationalized once again as necessary in order to protect “our way of life”—whatever that is. This is not the first time our country has struggled with these issues, sometimes violently. If you study our history, numbers of newcomers to the New World were viewed suspiciously and suffered the consequences of prejudice and discrimination. Italians, Germans, Irish, Dutch, Roman Catholics, Protestant Hugenots, Jews and Wiccans to name a few. And, we have not even gone to the worst places of the slavery of African peoples and genocide against Native Americans. In other words, this is nothing terribly new. Yet, it hardly reflects our best moments, our greatest democratic ideals, or our hopes for a better world. Sadly, now, once again the stage seems to be set to hear the strident voices of demagogues and fear-mongers.
This is our spiritual test as individuals and as a nation. Do we follow the higher vibration of Love and Light or cower in fear in the Dark; afraid of our neighbors next door or in other lands—even afraid of our world? This is a world of such rich promise, it is my prayer and the prayer of many that we find in our faith that hope for the world, and that we personally take action in our daily lives to act on that faith. A Fresh Cup of Tolerance is a call to action. Answer the call. Remember one of the central principles of Universalism, as we borrow a page from our Christian friends. They speak about the Gospel, which means “the Good News.” We have the Good News also; We are All Brothers and Sisters.