rev walter richardson_webjpg.jpgOne of the most profound lessons I have learned as a professor of world religions is that no one religion has a copyright on God. Another profound revelation to me is the fact that all religions have neighbors and, in the wisdom of the first members and practitioners of all religions, the chief principle is love amongst neighbors and peace with neighbors is closely aligned with love.

For one cannot love God without loving peace and one cannot experience true peace without embracing God.  For when one understands love, the duty to respect others becomes of paramount importance. 

All of the major religions of the world have addressed the treatment of humans to others. Brahmanism teaches, “This is the sum of duty: Do naught unto others which would cause pain if done to you.”  The Hindu Scriptures read exactly the same as those in Brahmanism in this regard. Judaism teaches, in Leviticus 19:18, “Thou shall love thy neighbor as thyself.” In the Talmud it is declared, “What is hateful to you, do not [do] to your fellow man.

 

This is the law: all the rest is commentary.” Buddhism, which predates the birth of Jesus Christ by approximately 300 years says, “Hurt not others in ways that you yourself find hurtful.” In Islam, the Qu’ran reads, “None of you truly believes until he wishes for his brother what he wishes for himself.”

 

Then, in Christianity, the New Testament states, in Matthew 7:12, “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do you even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.”

This is such an important lesson that the same or similar words are spoken in the New Testament five other times: Mark 12:31, Luke 19:18, Romans 13:9, Galatians 5:14 and James 2:8.

Therefore, it seems to me, we all belong to each other as created beings of God. It is apparent to me that no one considered holy possesses the whole truth about anything. It is clear to me that nobody individually sees perfectly the entire revelation of ultimate reality. We are each a part of the whole.

The Rev. Dr. Charles Adams, senior pastor of Hartford Memorial Church in Detroit says, “The university has no exclusivity on truth, and the military has no copyright on power. Neither does the church have a patent on God.”

Just as we love ourselves, we learn to love everybody, even those who are different than we are.

If this principle is ever fully embraced, there may not be a need for Republican, Democratic or Independent party affiliations. What one party desires would be what everybody desires, that everyone shares in what God has provided.

Ultimate good transcends race, religion, politics, geography, gender and age. We are our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers and our neighbors deserve and perhaps desire our love.