My book Why Religions Work explores religious tolerance issues. It could not be more relevant at the moment with the world in its present state.
This blog has concentrated recently on the wonderful pilgrimages I have been on - to the Holy Land and to Turkey and more recently to Holy Georgia , Greece "In the Steps of St Paul" , Ethiopia and most recently my experiences in Iran.

"If I was allowed another life I would go to all the places of God's Earth. What better way to worship God than to look on all his works?" from The Chains of Heaven: an Ethiopian Romance Philip Marsden

Friday, 23 December 2011

What would you do?

Imagine the scene. All the family is at home with you for Christmas. You are having a lovely party time – all is merriment and joy. Suddenly your child lunges out at his cousin with the toy sword you gave him from Santa. Blood is drawn and your son shows no sign of stopping. What do you do? You stop him, take away the sword, tend the wounds of the cousin, apologize profusely to the mother and impose punishment or sanctions or both on your son. Of course you do. You do most or all of these things, and peace is restored, a lesson has been learned. You may even think twice about the choice of present another year. You can take some responsibility.You can make a difference.

Now imagine the party scene again, only this time there is a fracas outside your house, in the street. A youth is beating up another and it looks violent. Do you just ignore it? Of course you don’t. If there are enough big strong men in your party they may go out and separate the lads, restore peace: although the police frown upon this vigilante approach, and sadly the good guys may suffer at the hands of the lads. So at the very least you call the police. Don’t you? Of course you do. And if you have any sense of social responsibility at all you would not, should not, resent paying appropriate taxes or rates to fund agents of law and order to keep your home, street, town, county, state or country safe.

Now imagine the party scene one more time – only you have turned on the TV news, just in time to see scenes of appalling rioting, violence and arson on the streets of the town a few miles away.

Or you see scenes of appalling rioting, violence and arson, or murder, or torture, or any dreadful abuse of human rights a little further afield - just across the border, in the next State, County, Country, even in another Continent…global news reaches our front room so quickly and graphically in this digital age.

What do you do?

You may be getting the idea.

Where do we draw the line, the boundaries.

What can we do to relieve suffering elsewhere. Does suffering matter less to us the further away it is, the more remote it is from our own circle of family and friends?

What is our government doing about global suffering? Is it enough? Do we campaign enough? Can we help financially? Can we influence with our vote?

We all tend to live in our own bubble. But not caring about our fellow human beings wherever they live, whoever they are, diminishes us as humans.

Surfing the internet, I came upon the following story told by Amital Etzioni in his blog (July 27, 2007) in connection with his book Spirit of Community.

Five shoppers at a Witchita, Kansas convenience store simply stepped over the body of 27 year-old LaShanda Calloway who lay on the floor bleeding severely. None stopped to ask if she was in need of assistance. None even bothered to call 911. Ms. Calloway died later that day at a Witchita hospital of injuries the result of a stabbing; she had been an innocent bystander, wounded in someone else’s fight.

What can you do to help heal this world?

Let’s bring compassion, empathy, tolerance and respect back into our lives.

I'm taking time out from blogging for a few days as I celebrate the birth of Christ.
I wish all my readers a very happy Christmas. May we all work in 2012 towards a more compassionate and tolerant World.

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