SPIRITUALLY SPEAKING: It is our religious calling – News – Wicked Local Plymouth

Who is our neighbor, and what effect do these words really have on our lives?

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. There is a version of this Biblical quote, also known as the Golden Rule, in the sacred texts of every religious tradition. Love thy neighbor is a similar passage that also can be found, in some form, in religious writings all over the world.

But who is our neighbor, and what effect do these words really have on our lives?

Is our neighbor just the person who looks like us and thinks like us, those that we see regularly at work, in our families or in our religious institutions? Its easy to love those people, isnt it? Or, is our God, or Higher Power, or Great Spirit, calling us to take on the more difficult task of loving everyone, even those neighbors who look differently, or think differently, or speak a different language, or are from a different race or culture?

I remember some of the discomfort and controversy that arose when the rainbow flag started to become popular and we had conversations in our Houses of Worship about displaying it as a sign of being welcoming to the LGBTQ+ community. Many people didnt want to deal with their long-held prejudice, discomfort and beliefs that devalued the lives of our lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered neighbors. It made us uncomfortable to focus our attention on those people. Then we started to really listen to the stories of our LGBTQ+ family members, friends, neighbors and colleagues. We did not know how much discrimination, violence and hatred LGBTQ+ people faced on a regular basis. We realized that, in many ways, their lives were similar to our own and some of our fears were unfounded. We became more comfortable with seeing the rainbow flag, and with appreciating what LGBTQ+ people bring to our lives and our communities.

Now, we face a new challenge as we see a renewed Black Lives Matter movement and Black Lives Matter signs appearing throughout our communities. We have to face the facts that our Black and brown-skinned neighbors have suffered horrific violence and prejudice in our society. We are now being asked to deal with our own prejudices and the racial hatred that has been passed down to all of us in our society. It is scary and uncomfortable, as it always is, whenever we are asked to look deeply within and make some changes in ourselves and our lives.

Yet, if we are truly to love our neighbor and do unto others, it is beyond time for all of us to listen to the stories and the lives of our Black and brown neighbors. It is beyond time for us to stand with Black and brown-skinned people who have been oppressed and mistreated to proclaim that Black Lives DO Matter. It is our religious calling to do so. It is what is required of us as people of any faith tradition.

The Rev. Arthur Lavoie is the minister of First Parish in Plymouth, Unitarian Universalist.

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SPIRITUALLY SPEAKING: It is our religious calling - News - Wicked Local Plymouth

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