We Are All Brothers and Sisters

All human beings are 99% alike. If we looked at the book of our life, every page would be the same except for two: those on eye and skin color.

Science have shown us repeatedly that we are all alike except for 1% – whether we were born in Canada, China or the U.S.; what is our eye and hair color; what is our skin color –that is the 1%.

Otherwise we are all alike!

It is astounding and downright crazy that we all tend to emphasize that 1%. The greatest wars, the greatest violence, and the greatest cruelty that human beings have done to one another has been because of that 1%, in the form of

Prejudice.

Discrimination.

Segregation.

Stereotyping.

So when we hear these terms, it causes us to think in extremes about other people, rather than emphasizing the many common things that we all share. These words emphasize the differences in people, causing fear and anxiety.

Prejudice causes us to judge a person’s character by their outward appearance. When we discriminate we deprive a person of the right to have what others have. Segregation deprives a person of the right to belong and to explore the differences and uniqueness in others. Profiling prevents a person from being a part of a majority.

Profiling lumps together all those people from a certain background, or a certain occupation, or a certain race, and attribute to each individual the same characteristics of the entire group. Although traits may generally be true of a group, it is NEVER always true of every person in that group.

Such stereotypes as “Blondes are all ditzy,” “All men are pigs,” or “All women are too emotional” are not supported by our personal observations. They show our blind acceptance of wild generalizations about people as being ‘the rule’.

These generalizations and stereotypes are not only incorrect, they are unfair, and unacceptable if we are to live in a harmonious and vibrant society.

All of us have, at one time of another, experienced prejudice against ourselves. Stereotyping leads to prejudice. Prejudice is defined as “unfavorable judgment due to partiality.” Prejudice divides, isolates, and ostracizes people. Prejudice is never neutral; it reacts strongly either for or against someone or something without knowing the facts. Prejudice has its root in ignorance, and leads to further ignorance. Prejudice embraces the idea of “don’t confuse me with the facts!”, perpetuating that ignorance.

Prejudice is also a way for some people to elevate themselves above others, by putting down and criticizing others. Slurs are used to describe people you do not know or dislike, hoping to get others to agree with your prejudice so that you can feel a member of a powerful group. Truly, one group of people cannot be better than another group, since all of us have come from the same ancestors.

We are all human beings and creations of God. We are told in Acts 17:26 that

God created all the people of the world from one man, Adam, and scattered the nations across the face of the earth.

In the Bible we are taught that those who judge according to outward appearance are foolish—that we do not see people the way God sees them,

For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart. (1 Samuel 16:7).

During the early days of Jesus’ ministry, his disciples felt the Jews were ‘the chosen people’, and the Gentiles, the uncircumcised and pagans could never enter the Kingdom of Heaven. After being reminded by God three times, Saint Peter finally understood that

“In truth, I am grasping (beginning to understand) that God is no respecter of appearances (shows no partiality). (Acts 10:34)

God has shown me in a vision that I should never think of anyone as inferior. (Acts 10:28)

God loves everyone!

In Galatians 3:28, we are told that God is color blind/race blind/gender blind:

there are no division into Jew and non-Jew, slave and free, male and female. We are all equal; we are all Abraham’s descendants (Galatians 3:28).

From time to time it’s good to search our hearts to see what our prejudices are, and try to understand why we hold these prejudices.

For the next four weeks, we are going to have guests visiting In The Garden who come from other religions and cultures. Although their observance of their religions is different from Christianity, you may be surprised to learn how similar to Christianity many of their beliefs are. We hope to learn about people who we have, perhaps, criticized and felt negative about simply because of things we have heard or read.

Next week we will have Cantor Lauren Bandman, who will speak to us about the Jewish religion and share some of the things that are part of their worship service. She is a fine singer and will present several Jewish songs that are part of the Shabbat service.

On April 17th, some of the students from the OSU Muslim Students are coming to debunk some of the misconceptions of the Islam religion. These are the students who fast one day a week so that they can prepare the sack lunches that you take home for Sunday evening.

On April 24, we will be hearing from Tarunjit Batalia, a member of the Sikh community, a branch of the Hindu religion. Sikhs have suffered persecution and violence because many people think they are Muslims, since they wear a turban as part of their culture.

On May 1, we will welcome Ernestine Jackson, a Buddhist, to talk about the similarities of the doctrine of Buddhism and Christianity.

This will be, I believe, an interesting and informative series of programs for all of us, and I invite you to bring friends and tell others who might be interested in these programs.

Let us remember

God created all the people of the world from one man, Adam, and scattered the nations across the face of the earth. (Acts 17:26)

These are our brothers and sisters. They are loved by the same God; live in the same world and share with us the joys and challenges of being a human being.

Let us come to better know these brothers and sisters from other faith traditions, so that we may love and understand them, as we hope they will love and understand us.

Amen.

 Delivered at In The Garden, Trinity Episcopal Church on Capitol Square, Columbus, OH; 3 April 2016

 

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