I just love the new Google commercial that ends with the slogan, “Be together, not the same.” Could there be a better message for interfaith?
Recently I mused in this column on my realization that for some of my interfaith friends, persuading others that we are all the same may sometimes be a survival issue. To use a distressingly-extreme example, recently terrorists methodically sorted students by religion at a college in Kenya, executing those of one religion, and sparing those of another. Being “the same” on that terrible day might have saved some lives. But here in individualist America, we both seek commonalities and chafe at their restrictions. We want to be original, unique, special. Not only that, but our very national foundations set religious freedom as one of our core values.
Nevertheless, there is something about us that is the same – we are all human. Even going beyond the human species, we Pagans recognize the living nature of all the cosmos, from our pets, to the rivers and mountains to the stars and galaxies. Could we do more recognizing of that sameness instead of straining to create a reductionist common religious framework?
I am different. I can’t help that much – it just seems to be my nature from a very young age. But like the tiger nuzzling the bear, the parrot feeding the dog, the rhino walking with the sheep, and the playful lion cub wrestling with a pit bull, I would love for that difference to enhance my friendships with others who do not look like me, but who find joy in life together. How can we get there?
Some of us on Wild Garden have helped form or otherwise become involved with local interfaith groups. Such groups tend to wax and wane, as do most all-volunteer organizations; sometimes they are vital for a few years and then lose energy. Or they may gain force and grow larger, like the United Religions Initiative or Interfaith Youth Core. Even limited activity is a start, however, and you never know just how many delightful new friends are waiting to play and wrestle with you. I look forward to the day that being different is normal. Oo-de-lally, oo-de-lally, golly, what a day.
Images from the Android Commercial “Friends Furever.”