Lord Krishna explains in the sacred text, Bhagavad-Gita, “Whatever action a great man performs, others will follow. And whatever standards he sets by exemplary acts, all the world pursues.”
Yesterday in Washington, D.C., we saw the truth of this statement, and the terrible impact of the misguided thoughts, words, and actions of an influential and powerful man.
Yet, each of us is great in our own fashion. We too, each of us, big and small, impact the world. We have that power. Congressional leaders were called upon yesterday to stand and be counted, to “tell the truth”, as Senator Romney pleaded. We too have choices to make, and the world will be better or worse because of it.
Just as President Lincoln counseled in his second inaugural address, “…if God wills that it [the civil war] continue…until every drop of blood drawn with the lash, shall be paid by another drawn by the sword,” we too are responsible for our actions and will draw our individual and collective ‘pay.’ As Jesus spoke, “As you sow, so shall ye reap.” Or, as my Vaishnava Hindu tradition warns, our karma, both good and bad, will always find us.
Some of us spoke out during the past four years of escalating violations of respect and decency; and some didn’t, for whatever reasons. But, today is a new day and it calls for each of us to reexamine our own character, and to recognize the role we play in the drama of life and in the making, and remaking, of our nation and our world.
The world’s great religious and moral traditions call upon us to love our fellow human beings. My tradition teaches us to protect all forms of life, seeing such as sacred and connected to the Divine. We are also called to cleanse our minds and our hearts so that we can be agents of the good. So, let us live these ideals, and not just give them lip-service. Will we, as individuals, families, races, religions, and political parties, take the leadership role God expects of us to “bind the nation’s wounds?” Will we recognize the sisterhood and brotherhood, and the spiritual sanctity of all citizens, black and white, red and blue, rich and poor, powerful and powerless? Will we honor, promote, and protect them as such?
The chaos and crisis that exploded in America’s capital yesterday was not the result of one man, or a few thousand crazed vigilantes. It was the result of years of vitriol, of planting seeds of divisiveness and hate, of reveling in the unfair and unlawful treatment of others for selfish and materialistic gains.
It is long past time that we each, of whatever faith or philosophy, or political persuasion, color or creed, put aside our nasty, divisive thoughts, words and acts, and realize that the destiny of our nation and the world, and our very souls, rests in our hands.
Each day, each moment, we have the power to choose kind or hurtful words. We have the power to be examples of light or darkness to our children. We have the power to say that the hate, the spiteful words, the selfish acts, the abuse, and the anger must stop. And, to commit that it will stop first with me—with my words and my actions. We have the power to promote policies in our homes, in our neighborhoods, in our workplaces, in our nation, in our media, in our political parties, and in our houses of worship that are fair to all—not just that benefit a few. We have the power to stand up for what is right, or to choose to stand down and accede to violence, hate, and anarchy.
Let us wake up today chastened, yet wiser. Let us learn from yesterday’s crisis. We too can help set our nation and the world on a better path. We too, as President Lincoln called upon us, must act with “malice towards none…to do all which may achieve and cherish a just, and a lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations.”
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