As the bamboos sway: Sons and Daughters of Abraham on the March


“We will continue to march until it is recognized that to be different is a privilege bestowed upon us by the God Almighty. We will continue to march until hatred against a deemed inferior race by a believing superior race is overwhelmed and to march is no longer needed. Yes, we will continue to march until it is recognized that the blending of differences will be a beautiful march for the betterment of humanity.” This summarizes the speech of Pastor Torrence K. Niven of the Evangelistic Missionary Baptist Church during the rally following an Interfaith March for Peace and Justice held in Oxnard, California last April 29, 2018.

“The march was only one of those held at the same time in various cities throughout the United States,” said Tim McDonell. “Various faiths in other places as far as Africa also held marches for justice and peace.” McDonell is the Regional Director of Peace Catalyst International. He is endearingly called Moses and dubbed an inspiration for spearheading the movement in Ventura County.

The movement is necessary not only because the various faiths express service and love for their neighbor as paramount but because “we are all sons of Abraham,” said Rabbi Michael Lotker. He was referring to the scattering of the tribes of the Prophet Abraham of the Old Testament. “Only those locked in the boundaries of their beliefs do not see us all as brothers and sisters,” much less others think they are superior than others.

Rev. Rick Pearson used the classic blind men interpreting what an elephant is analogy in pointing why there are various religions and why there are deemed differences among them. As Wikipedia puts it, “The parable of the blind men and an elephant originated in the ancient Indian subcontinent, from where it has been widely diffused. It is a story of a group of blind men, who have never come across an elephant before and who learn and conceptualize what the elephant is like by touching it. Each blind man feels a different part of the elephant body, but only one part, such as the side or the tusk. They then describe the elephant based on their partial experience and their descriptions are in complete disagreement on what an elephant is. In some versions, they come to suspect that the other person is dishonest and they come to blows. The moral of the parable is that humans have a tendency to project their partial experiences as the whole truth, ignore other people’s partial experiences, and one should consider that one may be partially right and may have partial information.” Thus, Rev. Pearson pleads that we should all but open our eyes and be receptive of what others see and feel that we may have a total picture of humanity and be in agreement that we are all of the same belief.

Imam Yama Niazi says further that, “Just because we call God Allah does not mean that He is not the same God you may be worshipping.” He goes on to say that true Muslims cannot be terrorists as one might believe because “the Koran teaches to love and not to harm one’s fellowmen.” He admits though that there are those who are extremists who call themselves Muslims who give a bad name to true Muslims.

A high priest of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints or Mormons liken the blending of interfaith believers to piano keys. “A piano, composed of the lowest to the highest keys, black and white, belong to different octaves. Even in just within an octave, you have different notes. When not properly played, when the different keys are not properly, out of time, out of tune, there is dissonance which is irritating. Only when the proper keys are pressed at the proper time and are in tune with chords could there be melodic and harmonic sounds that are not only pleasing the ears but to the soul of one’s well-being.”

Many, however, perpetrate the dissonance. On the same date, April 29, though 15 hours ahead, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) condemned the murder of 37-year-old priest Father Mark Ventura, who was shot dead by riding-in-tandem killers after saying Mass in Gattaran, Cagayan. Ventura was the second priest killed in the Philippines within four months.

Liberal Party president Senator Francis Pangilinan said that “The brazen attack on the 37-year-old Fr Ventura, known for his advocacy against mining and being of aid to indigenous peoples, has no place in our society and under this administration which boasts of prioritizing law and order and brags about reduced crime rates.”

Anakbayan advocates blame President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration for what they call a “fascistic, tyrannical, and mafia-style rule.”’ They add that “Its fascist campaign has rendered people from the religious sector as legitimate targets of killings, intimidation, and harassment for speaking up not only against the madman’s bloody war on drugs but also against the social and political injustices perpetrated by the regime.”

President Duterte has labeled activists as communists and terrorists. Although he has not labeled her as such, he had an Australian nun, Sister Patricia Fox, 72, incarcerated, had her visa revoked, and ordered to go back to Australia for being a nuisance. Fox had been in the Philippines close to three decades advocating for peasants’ rights.

Pope Francis of the Catholic Church is also being tagged as a communist. In Oct. 24, 2014 he rejected claims that his concern for the poor and criticisms of capitalism make him a communist, by declaring that he is merely following the precept of the Bible. In one of his speeches he said at the World Meeting of Popular movements of trade unions, farmers, and domestic workers, “Today I want to unite my voice with yours and accompany you in your fight.”

The elephant, indeed, is being, not only felt, but also perceived precept by precept as the sons and daughters of Abraham marches on.#


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