By Ken Hamilton
Niagara Gazette — Two things happened to me around Christmas this year that reminded me that we cannot have peace on Earth unless we learn to have respect for each other’s cultures.
I say ‘cultures,’ because expecting people to have respect for each of the six-billion individuals with whom we share this planet is not just impossible, it is also the epitome of self-centeredness; and that is preclusive of both respect and of peace.
I cherish the many friends that I have made around the globe, as well as the experiences that they have given me in their home nations, and I appreciate every opportunity that I have to make them feel welcome in our country.
The truth is, our country is rapidly becoming their country too — and that is all right by me.
One of the things that recently happened to me was that as I was rooting around the Family Dollar store on Pine Avenue on Christmas Eve, greeting those who passed me in the aisleways, I encountered what appeared to be a Jamaican-Canadian woman and her two daughters, and I shared a laugh or two with them.
As I began to depart, she felt so at ease with me that she summoned me back and gave to me a small religious tract to read. It was about creating a happy family. She was a Jehovah’s Witness, I gladly accepted the well-written and better-illustrated piece of literature, and she beamed with joy as I thanked her for giving it to me.
On that same day, I received electronic messages from two foreign-born friends of mine. Both of these friends were Muslim; one born in India and the other in what he lovingly refers to as Palestine. Both were wishing me a Merry Christmas. It warmed my heart.
We should love each other, not despite our differences; but, instead, because of our differences. And because we cannot respect the differences that we do not recognize, we must recognize that we are indeed different.
I heard one comedian putting it this way: “One of the problems with the world is that we don’t recognize our differences. The Muslims don’t recognize the Jews; the Jews don’t recognize the Catholics; the Catholics don’t recognize the Baptists; and Baptist don’t recognize each other at Hooters.”
While that is a wild exaggeration, it does bring some light to where some people draw the lines of love, lines that too often serve as fences.
But love should draw us closer together, and it should erase the lines, not push us further apart in a world where, each day, by electronic or actual immigration, we are otherwise closer to each other than ever before.
So to my friends from all over the globe, and to those with whom I have proximity, let’s work to make 2013 the best year of all of our lives.
In the coming New Year, in the spirit of our Muslim and Hindu friends whose shop windows are decorated in the red and green of Christmas regalia, in the spirit of the tract that the Canadian-Jamaican Jehovah’s Witness at the dollar store gave, in the spirit of every contact that we have had in this Noel season, let our hearts, each day, write a Christmas card of love to everyone who is culturally unlike us, as well as to those who are.
As individuals, we may not completely create peace on Earth in so doing; but we will create peace between those whom we meet and ourselves, thereby fanning the flames of love that will warm cool hearts around the world.
Happy New Year to all.Contact Ken Hamilton at email@example.com.