Building Respect This Christmas

A handful of Jews, Muslims and others show belligerence towards the celebration of Christmas and have vandalized Christmas trees. Shame on them. The good news is that they are less than one-one hundredth of 1 percent of any given group. There will always be a few among (every one) us who are bellicose toward others. Are you and I any better than them? If we are, our attitudes should not mirror them. Instead, it should be: What can we do to make the world a better place? What can we do to change instead of aggravating it?

The public is as guilty as the media when it comes to what gets currency; it is a vicious circle and has to be consciously chucked. The media mirrors the stories generated by less than one-one hundredth of 1 percent of population and dumps on the rest of the population as though it is "their" story, and the public on the other hand has not demonstrated their support for good news and scrutiny.

We all need to work on building respect for each others' celebrations. On NPR recently, there was a Christian Radio broadcaster who was telling that in Bethlehem they cannot do anything that amounts to proselytizing. There was a Muslim chap in Portland who was plotting to destroy the Christmas tree, and here is a Jewish Mayor in Nazareth refusing to allow Christmas tree in the town square. Some idiot somewhere around the world will continue this non-sense. Just hold on to your emotions; let's avoid stereotyping their nations, religions or ethnicities.

A Christian lady in Pakistan is charged up with blasphemy. She said bad things about Islam because she was called names when she was drawing water from the lake and they pushed on her patience. A few among Hindus in India will harm some trees, and a few among Christians in America will do something stupid to frighten others. I am sure: You will find this fanaticism in every corner of the world where a few from the majority communities acts like bullies. No nation or religion can cast the first stone, a truth said by Jesus long time ago.

Once again, I request you to ask your Pastors to find ways to mitigate conflicts and not flare it up in their sermons.

Here is my singular wish for this Christmas: to follow the path of Jesus. It means to be like him, to be prejudice free, to be free from ill-will and malice, to forgive and embrace those whom we don't like. I wish us to be free from all bias. Amen.

Mike Ghouse runs the Foundation for Pluralism championing the idea of co-existence through respecting and accepting the otherness of other and has dedicated his life to nurturing the pluralistic ideals embedded in Islam through the World Muslim Congress.

He is a regular commentator on the TV, Radio and Print media offering pluralistic solutions to the issues of the day. He is a speaker, thinker, writer and a peace activist. Mike's work is reflected at his website.