This year, I’ve attended two weddings and both were of mixed religion. First, I was lucky enough to attend a wedding between a Jewish bride and one of my best friends. Their ceremony incorporated both traditions and combined two families of different religious backgrounds into one. Those two families embraced their differences and came together to create a stronger bond.
Fast forward to this weekend, I attended yet another mixed wedding this time between a Hindu and his Muslim bride. To my surprise, I was asked to participate in a small part of one of the Hindu ceremonies with a stranger I’d never met. My reaction, to pick the man up with a big hug and welcome him to our family. These two religions have fought for centuries but again, two families came together over commonalities.
Finally, as I approach my two year anniversary with my Muslim bride, I know that she and her family are some of the most generous, caring, kind, and accepting people I have ever met and I’m proud to call them my family. When my Christian grandfather passed away, they showed up to a Christian ceremony to support me in my time of need. There has never been a day where I have felt like I am an outcast or that they love me any less than their own flesh and blood. I speak from experience that most Muslims are this way.
Extremists don’t hate a single religion, in fact, ISIS has killed many many more Muslims than Christians since their inception. What they hate is the picture I painted above. They hate when people are free to choose what God they worship, when people are free to educate themselves the way they see fit, when people are free to marry who they want. We’ve built our country on these freedoms and it’s what makes us different than other parts of the world.
When things go wrong in other parts of the world, division ensues, war breaks out. Here we debate and we vote. But lately, I fear that our country falls into hate as a default reaction to these events because its easy. What is difficult is stepping outside your comfort zone, finding what you have in common with people who don’t look like you, think the same way you do, or believe what you believe, and using that bond to create a whole that is better than its individual parts. This is true in all facets of life rather it be politics, business or relationships.
This is the last I will say about the issue as I know that no Facebook post will change the way people feel nor do I enjoy arguing politics in public with people who have become complete strangers. I will leave with this Abraham Lincoln quote:
“America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.”