The views expressed in this post are opinion based and do not represent the views of Alder's Ledge's many different contributors and writers. Our team here at Alder's Ledge is religiously diverse and do not all share the same faith or ideals. With that said this post should be seen as the opinion of our main author alone. Please read with an open mind and feel free to contact the author with any feedback you might have.
I don't often speak out against the given faiths of others. My personal opinion is that those such beliefs are not suitable for polite conversation. And yet over the past few weeks the assiduous desire to do so has constantly come forward from the back of my mind. Not from conflict with any given faith in particular. But rather due to the lack of heart and compassion I continually see in these so called believers before me.
I understand that there is a compulsion to tend to one's own community of pious brothers and sisters before focusing on the needs of others. But I don't exactly understand as to why this compulsion exists in the first place. It is the very existence of this ethnocentric obligation that at times amuses me and yet more often than not infuriates me.
When I first began writing about the genocide the first group that jumped on board with my "screaming" was the Armenian community. Of course the topic I was writing about at the time was the Armenian Genocide and the lack of recognition for it across the United States. So naturally the Armenian community clung to the idea of screaming and readily helped in doing so. After all, it was an effort to both remember and honor their ancestors who had perished at the hands of the Turks.
Yet when I write about the Romani people in Europe and the Americas the collective voice of the Christian Armenian supporters falls away.
Then came the Syrian articles. Suddenly the few Christian supporters who wanted to scream vanished. But just as they stepped away, in came Muslim supporters who wanted to scream on behalf of their oppressed brothers and sisters. And once again the faithful were ready to scream...
Or were they?
It is easy for us to scream for those who we feel bonded to. It is easy for us to take up the struggle of a community that we share a given faith with and common sense of identity. We feel the desire because we can relate to their suffering by imagining what it would be like if we had the same thing happen to us. The ability to superimpose our own selves in their given scenario is made easier by the religion we share with them. Yet if we take away that trait and cancel out any religious sympathies we might have for the victim, the ability to scream for them dwindles rapidly.
This has been made clear to me when I myself have crossed the imaginary line between one faith and the next to lend my voice to the oppressed on the other side. In the case of the Rohingya people, a topic I'm the sole author here on, the question comes up often as to why I care. And it is a question that seems both offensive to me and odd at the same time.
Are the Rohingya not human beings like myself? Do they not have strong religious beliefs that are being trampled upon by the government of Myanmar in much the same way as my ancestors' religion was? And if I were in their shoes would I not want somebody to scream on my behalf?
The question of faith is not one that should guide us toward a given "cause" or the plight of this group over that one. If we are honest in our beliefs we would note that G-d never commanded us to defend our faith at the expense of other people. Instead, and much to the contrary, our faith should guide us to care for all people no matter what their given faith or social standings might be. We should be ready to fight on the behalf of all the downtrodden and outcasts that society creates. Without a second thought, we should scream till our throats are raw and our breath runs short. For this is the basic principle of each of our faiths... to show the love our Creator has shown to us.
O you who believe! Stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to All-h, even though it be against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin, be he rich or poor, All-h is a Better Protector to both (than you). So follow not the lusts (of your hearts), lest you avoid justice; and if you distort your witness or refuse to give it, verily, All-h is Ever Well-Acquainted with what you do.
~ Surah An-Nisa 4:135
"Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow's cause." ~ Yeshayahu (Isaiah) 1:17
"Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all."
~ Romans 12:15-18
If we are to call ourselves believers than we must first learn what it means to believe and not just pick and choose what suites us best. And if we are to call ourselves screamers than we must show our dedication to scream for anyone, anywhere, at anytime. We cannot choose who we love anymore than we can choose for whom we will scream.
"For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another"
~ Galatians 5:13
We have been born free men. We have a voice that is a blessing given onto us. It is a blessing that is meant to be used not to serve our own flesh or our own people but to be at the service of others. If it is withheld from this then we should never expect others to use their blessings on our behalf.
The serving of our own community is important. But the showing of our faith through the service to others is even greater. Screaming beyond the boundaries of our faiths and outside our comfort zones shows this for all the world to see. Through this act we become a light to a dark world that so desperately needs our passion, our hearts, our love, and our voice.
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