The Golden Rule

16 06 2011

My next door neighbor in my dorm this past year had this Golden Rule poster on her door.

There are many different versions of the Golden Rule, but for me as a Christian this is “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”  Many people, myself included, heard this over and over growing up, at school, at home, in church, etc. But how closely do we follow this common saying?

 

Here’s the thing. We all have groups that we identify with proudly, but no one likes to be judged as a member of a group if it has a bad connotation and no one wants to hear their group disparaged. Also, no one wants to be judged by some members of the group with whom they disagree.

 

Personally, I think Christianity is a wonderful religion, and I am proud to follow Christian principles. However, I don’t want everyone who knows that I am a Christian to look at people like Scott Lively, Caleb Lee Brundidge and Don Schmierer, three men who spoke at a conference in Uganda about “curing” homosexuals and helped set in motion the Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009, which includes the death penalty for homosexuality, and think that all Christians are heterosexist and homophobic.

 

I don’t want anyone to look at Michelle Bachmann, a Christian who has said “not all cultures are equal, not all values are equal,” about Islam and think all Christians feel the same way. I don’t want anyone to see her support for the Center for Security Policy report, “Shariah: the Threat to America” which proposes that U.S. Muslims are waging a “stealth jihad” to impose sharia on the U.S. and think that all Christians are guilty of the same illogical thinking and constantly spouting the same kinds of ridiculous accusations and Islamophobia that politicians have used over and over to demonize those they disagree with.

 

I don’t want anyone to look at Glenn Beck and think that all Christians are racist, sexist, and against equal rights for everyone but themselves and those that believe the things they do.

 

And then, of course, there is Adolf Hitler. How often when we talk about the Holocaust do we mention that Hitler was a Christian? Do I even need to explain why I don’t want people to judge me by him?

 

Basically, I just want to be judged by me, Jewel Daniels, my behavior and only my behavior, and I believe most people, if not all, want the same.

 

And yet, many people do that very same, unjust thing to Muslims. A American value is individuality, yet we do not judge others as individuals when it suits us, when we are angry or afraid. Following that instinct is taking the easy way out, something we do much too often. Of course I have heard stories personally from friends and acquaintances about being called a terrorist and getting nasty looks from complete strangers, but this is happening all over the country. Currently, Muslims report rising discrimination at work. Muslims make up less than 2 percent of the United States population, but accounted for about one-quarter of the 3,386 religious discrimination claims filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in 2009.

 

And then of course there was the Sikh taxi driver who in early June was beaten when one of his customers thought he was Muslim because he wore a turban.

 

It was philosopher George Santayana who said ‘Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it’. I find this to be extremely appropriate for the situation we find ourselves in today. This same thing has happened over and over again in America. So few people have taken it to heart and stood up for others after having been themselves the ones who were discriminated against. Luckily, there are people who have chosen to remember their past and have empathy for others. Japanese Americans such as Representative Mike Honda have been among the most vocal and passionate supporters of Muslim Americans, especially on the West Coast. Honda spoke at a convention of the American Muslim Alliance in October 2001 expressing empathy for what they were experiencing due to his own family’s experience with Internment at Camp Apache during WWII. He defended Representative-elect Keith Ellison’s decision to use the Quran in his swearing-in ceremony and chastised Representative Virgil Goode in a letter for judging Ellison and other Muslims by the actions of radical extremists and urged him to embrace diversity, not fear it. Now here is someone who really follows the Golden Rule, and not just for Muslims, but for other minority groups in America fighting for equality.

 

I know this is hard, but it is necessary.

 

Be honest with me. Do you follow the golden rule? Do you stand up for what you believe in, and defend those wrongfully discriminated against? And if you don’t, isn’t it worth it to start?

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