Saturday, January 7, 2017

Beware of Dehumanizing

Epiphany emphasizes the manifestation (defined as an event that clearly shows or embodies something) of Christ to the Gentiles as represented by the visit of the Magi. Epiphany’s  dream is that all people (Wise Persons from the East, Jews, Gentiles, Shepherds, yes, even King Herod, and the children of Bethlehem too) are to be accepted and valued, not because they hold a particular faith, or hold my values or yours, and not because they adhere to the same laws as you and I do, but simply because they (we) are human.  If we give credence to God creating man/woman, then we must, or so it seems to me, accept the Quaker notion that there is "that of God" in all persons.  We are all human!

The distinctions or categories we have made up:  Us/Them; Democrat/Republican; East/West; Christian/Jew/Muslim; Black/White; Male/Female; frustrate the Epiphany dream.  We must build bridges not walls.  We must lift up and not put down. We are all human!

Nowhere is this more clearly expressed than in the words penned by Shakespeare in the "Merchant of Venice":
"Hath not a Jew eyes? hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions? fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means, warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer as a Christian is?  If you prick us do we not bleed?  If you tickle us do we not laugh?  If you poison us do we not die?"

You can substitute any other category/label in place of the word "Jew" and it still speaks the same message.  When we cease to accept and value one another, when we degrade one another, when we fear one another, when we ignore one another, we lose something of our own humanness!  “During the Holocaust,” writes David Livingstone Smith in  his book, Less Than Human, “Nazis referred to Jews as rats. Hutus involved in the Rwanda genocide called Tutsis cockroaches. Slave owners throughout history considered slaves subhuman animals.” Such dehumanization continues in our world and we must stand against it, because it is antithetical to all the major world religions, the laws of morality, and it opens the door for cruelty and persecution.  In the end, it dehumanizes all of us!

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