About 200 people left their comfort zone on a recent frigid winter evening to participate in Where We Dwell Together: the 16th Annual Interfaith Prayer, presented by the Center for the Study of Jewish-Christian-Muslim Relations.
Students played an important role in the inspirational service at Cascia Hall. The Merrimack Concert Choir led a hymn sung in the round. Students from the Interfaith Alliance and Unity House stood in the center of the circular rows to recite the Golden Rule from 16 faith traditions. Variations included the Muslim “wish for others what you wish for yourself.”
“It can be scary to interact with people of different faiths,” acknowledged Cantor Vera Broekhuysen, of Temple Emanu-El, Haverhill, who delivered the message. She invoked the Hebrew dictum: “You shall love the stranger as yourself.”
Broekhuysen encouraged students to stand up to bullying, be kind on social media and protect transgender youth and others pummeled by hate speech.
“Words can build walls and have painful consequences. … What we call people matters,” she said. Labeling immigrants “illegal” robs them of the right to seek asylum, said Broekhuysen, co-founder of the Merrimack Valley Interfaith Sanctuary Network.
“Choose your words with care, intention and love,” she concluded. “Used properly, words can tear down walls and build up people.”
The cantor’s words struck a chord with senior Melissa Clark, a soprano in the choir. “They say you can handle a bruise but words can get under your skin,” she said. “This event brings everybody together and delivers the message that we need to all get along.”
Jessica Izurieta ’19, vice president of the College’s Interfaith Alliance, led the litany of thanksgiving for the world’s religions. The presiding Fr. Raymond Dlugos, O.S.A., ended with petitions for peace. “Let Heaven burn away the fog so we can see each other clearly,” he said. He asked that world leaders “see all people as neighbors.”
The prayers resonated with five-year attendee Sister Marcia Wiley of Lawrence. In her mostly Hispanic community, she said, “we all have the same joys and heartaches.”
READING OF THE GOLDEN RULE from 16 different religious texts
From Hillel in the Talmud
What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor. This is the whole Torah; all the rest is commentary. Go and learn it.
From Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew
In everything, do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the teaching of the prophets.
From a Hadith of The Prophet Muhammad
Not one of you truly believes until you wish for others what you wish for yourself.
From Bahá’u’lláh, Gleanings
Lay not on any soul a load that you would not wish to be laid upon you, and desire not for
anyone the things you would not desire for yourself.
From The Buddha, Udana-Varga
Treat not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful.
From the Analects of Confucius
One word which sums up the basis of all good conduct….loving-kindness. Do not do to others
what you do not want done to yourself.
From the Mahabharata
This is the sum of duty: do not do to others what would cause pain if done to you.
Do not do unto others what angers you if done to you by others.
From Mahavira, Sutrakritanga
One should treat all creatures in the world as one would like to be treated.
From Chief Dan George
We are as much alive as we keep the earth alive.
From Shinto teaching
The heart of the person before you is a mirror. See there your own form.
From Guru Granth Sahib
I am a stranger to no one; and no one is a stranger to me. Indeed, I am a friend to all.
From Lao Tzu, T’ai Shang Kan Ying P’ien
Regard your neighbor’s gain as your own gain and your neighbor’s loss as your own loss.
From Unitarian principle
We affirm and promote respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.
From the Wiccan Rede
If it harms none, do what you will.
Do not do unto others whatever is injurious to yourself.