In today’s political climate, where our differences are exaggerated in ways which cause us to hold positions with little room for compromise, we often overlook that most of us share the same needs and concerns. In the grand scheme of things, the driving forces in life include a general sense of security for ourselves, our families and our communities. When we combine these concerns with our basic needs for food, water and clean air, we find very few differences between one human being and another.
This perspective on our humanity was the topic of my sermon on Rosh HaShanah day where I emphasized that the starting point of our perspectives of those around us needs to be rooted in our commonalities. We need to begin from a place of curiosity rather than suspicion, and we need to approach our differences with an open ear and an open heart.
When we stereotype and second guess the motives of others or judge them entirely based on superficialities like the language they speak, the color their skin, how they vote or who they love, we threaten to compromise the social fabric of our humanity and generate relationships which are rooted in our differences rather than our commonalities. This can lead to a culture of ugliness, suspicion and distrust.
If, on the other hand, we are able to find ways to love across boundaries, listen more patiently and see each other in ways that allow us to feel more connected, then we can be weavers of relationships and builders of trust and understanding. It is in the spirit of weaving relationships and building bridges that I share this beautiful letter signed by forty-five leaders in the Muslim community.
Shanah Tovah! To our Jewish brothers and sisters in Houston – we hope the new year brings you goodness, value and more meaning into your lives!
For both our communities, this past year was particularly trying. Together, we faced hate and discrimination, and together we viewed the continued rise of white supremacy in our nation. We also witnessed our communities standing up for one another, and joining hands to combat these evils through dialogue, advocacy, and words of support.
It is reminiscent of the verse in the Quran which says “For indeed, with hardship there will be ease. Indeed, with hardship, there will be ease.”
As we move into the new year, it is our sincere hope that our two communities will continue to build on the momentum of friendship and trust between our people.
May God bless your homes and make this a good new year for you all, and may it be a year of continued hope for our city!
This letter is a strong testament to the work we have done within our faith communities to weave and build relationships based on trust, respect and friendship. It is my hope to continue