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Monday, November 23, 2009


Written by: Rick Staggenborg, MD on Sep 29, 2009 12:36 PM PDT

The Jewish people have a wonderful tradition of forgiving debts that are seven years old at the time of a celebration known as Jubilee. It is not always practiced by those not strictly observant of the traditions codified in the Torah. This is a phenomenon increasingly seen among American Jewry, which is more secular than its Israeli brothers and sisters. When Jesus was a rabbi, he recommended that this practice be extended to debts of forgiveness toward those who transgressed against us and that it be practiced every day.

It is interesting that Rosh Hashana coincides nearly exactly with Eid this year. Eid is the Muslim celebration marking the end of Ramadan, 40 days of fasting to demonstrate devotion to the one God worshiped by all of what Muhammad referred to as “the People of the book.” He acknowledged that there have been many prophets and that Jesus was one such prophet, as well as the prophets of the Old Testament and himself. Muhammad’s proscription to honor, respect and accord equal rights to all monotheists was practiced by the mullahs of the Caliphate, which ruled for 800 years in Moorish Spain until conquerors claiming to kill for Christ ended the peaceful reign of Muslims which had lasted nearly a millennium. 

Of course, it may be argued that this was in response to earlier efforts to spread Islam at the point of a sword not long earlier. In all likelihood the invasion would have happened anyway. As they say, "Onward, Christian Soldiers." This metaphor is taken literally by those who see the global "war" on terror as a Holy War against Islam itself. As with most conflicts, there is undoubtedly blame on both sides. To find a peaceful solution we must look beyond assigning blame and work together in the common interests of all.

Practicing forgiveness against our transgressors each and every day is the only sure path to eternal peace in the Mideast. Muslims and Jews alike must recognize the truth in these words of the transcriptionist and first teacher of what millions worldwide believe to be the last chapter in the book of eternal life which God has revealed to us and which Buddha understood implicitly through his steadfast meditation with a completely open mind.

All the peoples of the Earth claim to pray for world peace, but the collective consciousness of many has been clouded by the belief that this can only be achieved by force through war, brother and sister killing each other. There are many of us who do not believe this to be true, and the faith of Deists and atheists in humanism, secular or otherwise, is our only hope of ending war permanently and working together to save ourselves from self-destruction. We recognize our common humanity and interests and are working to bring this about. Anyone who recognizes this and chooses to devote themselves to this mission is in essence a Soldier For Peace.

Jesus understood that the Jewish people could not free themselves through force from the grip of Roman subjugation and slavery. He brought a message that changed the collective consciousness forever. Gandhi understood this as well when he showed the Indian people of many faiths and many Gods that the path to freedom was not through violent resistance. He led the passive resistance to the arrogant British colonialists who lost America because of the American faith in the power of democracy. If the America people remember the reason the colonists of America fought and died for their right of self-determination and maintained that faith and selfless devotion to the goals they cherished, we can yet Take Back America for the People.

When we all accept the fact that we are one people tied through our genetic heritage and descended from the first men and women who wandered the plains of Africa, we will change the collective consciousness and achieve that which all of us in our hearts long for, an end to our deep feeling of being separate from each other. The only way to do this is to learn to bridge the gap that separates us by working diligently to communicate to others our desire to work toward our common goals through patience, love, understanding, and the forgiveness of even the most terrible acts of those who have acted the most selfishly and committed the most horrendously evil sins. If we forgive but do not forget what most of us regard as the unforgivable, we will inevitably forge a path together to eternal peace and harmony among all mankind.

Let this be the first year of a new millennium of Shalom and Salaam. This would be the best mitzvah we could possibly imagine.


Rick Staggenborg, MD

Pasadena, California-Where the fires were burning hotly as this was written.

Please support Jewish peace activists in Israel and  the United States by joining their organizations and their fight for justice for Palestinians. 

Although some would revile any organization that seeks a two-state solution, when a serious discussion takes place in Israel about negotiating for peace, it will be around the issue of a two-state solution. These individuals are facing widespread hate and even violence for opposing settlements and other violations of Palestinian rights. While we can put pressure on the Israeli government, we can only force it to broker for peace in Israelis join us in calling for an end to the madness.

It will become apparent in time that a one-state solution is the only hope for lasting peace, but Israel must come to the table first, because they will not be forced to negotiate. Citizens of Israel are not any freer than those in Gaza if they are trapped in a thinking that leads to eternal conflict. They must free their minds to be truly free of the endless threat of violence. 

When one of us is not free, none of us truly are.

Jewish Voice for Peace
Peace Now

1 comment:

  1. All great Western religions recognize the value of forgiveness, but all religions eventually become corrupted by those who twist the meaning of words to change the original message in a self-serving way.

    The Qua'ran teaches that Jesus was a great prophet whose central message of love and forgiveness was brought from God at a time when this Judaic teaching had been forgotten by too many.

    The message of brotherly love was a threat to the Sanhedrin and Romans alike, who used fear of punishment rather than love to enforce the power they held over the average citizen of Judea.

    The Sanhedrin knew that if Jesus gained enough followers, the people would realize that they did not need to listen to self-interested religious leaders that had allowed the temple to be sullied by the money lenders.

    As in modern times, the Quisling government of the Sanhedrin also enforced Roman rule, like any good puppet government does today. Let's hope an pray that the words of the more universally-minded Rabbis are heeded.

    If the collective consciousness of modern-day Israelites becomes one of accepting Palestinians as their brothers and sisters, there can be peace in the Mideast. Peace activists in Israel already understand this. I hope that they can convince their compatriots that charity and fairness are not weakness but signs of strength. I believe we must support them in this effort by calling for justice in Palestine with them.


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