On the seam of East and West Jerusalem, we welcomed into our home thirty Israelis, Palestinians, and internationals to celebrate the Golden Rule Day which is organized by URI and Unity Earth on the eve of April 5, 2019. In the midst of the tensions currently raging in Jerusalem, we sent a message of unity and respect between Israelis and Palestinians -- Christian, Jewish, and Muslim men and women of the Abrahamic religions from our embattled city out to the world.
Ten different Israeli, Palestinian, and Multiregion URI Cooperation Circles (CCs) were represented as well as other local interfaith and peacebuilding organizations and David Freeman, the Representative of Bahai International community. People came from Bethlehem, Hebron, Ramallah, East and West Jerusalem, and Judea and Samaria / West Bank settlements.
We began with an introduction to URI and continued with having each person tell their name, location, and which CC they belong to. We recited the Golden Rule from 13 religions’ holy books from the Golden Rule Poster. We shared in pairs about our own feelings and practice of the Golden Rule -- each one sitting with someone they didn't know and creating a Golden Rule bond together -- many saying this was the most moving experience for them. We heard about the Golden Rule from the texts of Christianity from Daniel Aqleh (Together for Peace in Palestine CC) from Bethlehem, of Islam from Dr. Mohammed Dajani (Wasatia CC) from East Jerusalem, and of Judaism from Shlomo Alon (Arabic Language CC) from West Jerusalem. Although each one brought texts expounding on the Golden Rule with different emphasis and explanations, they all shared the common practice of treating the other as you wish to be treated.
Mamoun Ahmad, URI MENA Regional Coordinator, sent a message for the event saying, “Let’s unite to make our world a better place for all living beings. We need a spiritual constitution to unite us. A constitution that touches our hearts, minds and souls. A constitution that appreciates the wisdom in our differences and believes in our oneness, interconnectedness and interdependencies. Humanity cannot find a better constitution than the Golden Rule.”
Amb. Mussie Hailu explained the history of International Golden Rule Day and said it is a day for us to proclaim, more than ever, peace, unity, compassion, interfaith harmony, human dignity and respect for all life. He also led us in observing a moment of silence in remembrance of all the people who lost their precious life due to religious extremism violence and political unrest. He also lead us in the commitment to the personal pledge for peace and non-violence based on the teaching of the Golden Rule Pledge. Coincidentally it was Mussie's birthday and we surprised him with a beautiful cake adorned by his smiling face. He said he hasn't celebrated his birthday in years, and it felt fitting to celebrate it in the Holy Land with his extended family of URI.
Ben Bowler of Unity Earth spoke about the plans for Jerusalem 2020 being done here in partnership with URI. He explained that there would be different events as part of UDay 2020: Holy Land, Living Water partnering with EcoPeace during World Interfaith Harmony Week in February 2020 -- beginning in Jordan, moving to Bethlehem, and finishing in Jerusalem. He spoke of his vision of people of all different religions, race, cultures coming together in unity in Jerusalem at that time. I pointed out that our meeting already was manifesting his vision for here we were building and experiencing the power of treating each other with respect and openness to transform the conflict.
One Jewish woman participant wrote afterwards, "At your home, I experienced increased power of optimism begetting more potential optimism. Fruit comes from flowers. Yes. We sat with flowers in bloom. Fruit is coming."
May we all daily treat each other as we would like to be treated!
May Peace Prevail in the Middle East.
May Peace Prevail on Earth,Blessings and love,
Director, TRUST -- Emun
Global Trustee, URI -- United Religions Initiative