Reach Out, Build Relationships, #MakeFriends

On June 14th, the Elijah Interfaith Institute brought together several influential religious leaders from across the globe to make a powerful statement: reach out to people of different faiths, talk to them, get to know them, learn from them, teach them and build real relationships. You can listen to part of the statement by clicking here or on the video above.

Sadly, as this video was released on Wednesday, our country was rocked by the shooting of congressmen, police officers and others who were attending a practice for last night’s Congressional Baseball Game. The attack appears to have been motivated by the gunman’s political beliefs. The coming together of Democrats and Republicans at last night’s game was a fitting response to the shooting. As I’ve shared many times this year, the political climate in our country is dangerously divisive. Starting in Washington and spreading across our nation, hatred of the “other” political party is rampant.  Certainly, the typical American caught up in politics would not take up arms against the “other” political party. This being said, we owe it to each other and to our children to bring back the art of civil discourse. The display of unity at last night’s game was nice, but it’s not enough. And we can’t and we shouldn’t rely on the folks in Washington to be the ones to start a more respectful conversation. It can and should begin with us – and if we want to continue building our country, we must begin this conversation.

I know that many of the global religious leaders featured on the Elijah Interfaith Institute’s video embrace theological, political and social positions that do not reflect my own. But, if they’re willing to truly talk with you and me – if they’re willing to forge real relationships with us – there is hope. We as Democrats, Republicans, Independents and members of other political parties here in the United States need to take to heart the lessons of these religious leaders. As Bhai Sahib Mohinder Singh says, “No matter from which side of the mountain you’re climbing, we should be helping each other so that we can all get to the same place.” I believe we can do this. The violence that rocked our nation earlier this week teaches us that we must do this.

May Congressman Scalise, Officers Bailey and Griner, Zack Barth and Matt Mika be thoroughly healed. And may this be a Shabbat Shalom for us all.