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Circles of community

To the editor:

Recently you might have seen yard signs that say “Many Faiths, One Community.” The way we think of community is key. While belonging to a church is a choice, we are, of necessity, members of several communities, beginning with family and extending to the planet. Each of us is like a pebble dropped into still water, generating expanding circles of waves.

Each outward ring involves more diversity. All faith traditions include the Golden Rule, an ethical policy which makes community possible. If our personal behavior is aligned with the ideal of doing no harm, all our relationships will be healthy. In community, we devise policies and laws to encourage good behavior. Bad laws can be changed, and good laws must be enforced. Peace cannot last without justice.

Also common to all faith traditions is personal Introspection, and an honest look in the mirror always reveals cracks. Confessing our faults is the first step in the process of healing. In my religion, forgiveness is freely offered, but it comes with a command: go and sin no more.

Communities, like individuals, make mistakes. Healing requires truth and reconciliation. As I become more aware of the ugly parts of our nation’s history, I realize that reconciliation will require a lot of work. Also, a global perspective exposes the effects of human activity on the climate and all living things with whom we share the planet. Again, acknowledging and confessing our mistakes comes first, but it’s not the last step.

Both individually and communally, a more realistic self-image relieves us of the futile and exhausting exercise of defending ourselves when we have done wrong. As we focus on the truth of our brokenness, we can come together in humility, curiosity, gratitude, and joy. May our many faiths inspire us to participate in all our communities with expanded horizons and softened hearts.

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