As I see communal tensions slowly, surely and strategically built and religion pitted against religion, I wonder what our role should be, and then remember an incident that happened a few decades ago, with an African American player.
Jackie Robinson was one of the first African Americans to play major league baseball. Robinson faced hostility nearly everywhere he traveled because of his race. Pitchers threw fastballs at his head. Runners spiked him on the bases. Brutal epithets were written on cards and shouted by players in the opposing dugouts. Even the home crowds in Brooklyn saw him as an object of reproach.
During one game in Boston, the taunts and racial slurs seemed to reach a peak. To make matters worse, Robinson committed an error and stood at second base humiliated while fans hurled insults at him. A southern white man by the name of “Pee Wee” Reese called timeout. He walked over to Robinson and, with the crowds looking on, put his arm around his shoulder.
The fans grew quiet.
Robinson later said that arm around his shoulder saved his career. Jackie Robinson eventually went on to become one of baseball’s all-time greats. An arm around his shoulder made the difference. It said to the crowd and anyone who cared to notice, “We are one!”
Listen to Kahlil Gibran:
‘Thou art my brother because you are a human, and we both are sons of one God; we are equal and made of the same earth. You are here as my companion along the path of life, and my aid in understanding the meaning of hidden Truth. You are a human, and, fact sufficing, I love you as a brother.’
‘You are my brother and I love you. I love you worshiping in your church, kneeling in your temple, and praying in your mosque.’
‘I love you because you are weak before the strong oppressor, and poor before the greedy rich. For these reasons I shed tears and comfort you; and from behind my tears I see you embraced in the arms of Justice, smiling and forgiving your persecutors. You are my brother and I love you.’
Wonderful words, aren’t they? Yes, my brother or sister of another faith, let’s give each other an arm of support as we stumble across the rough road of life that our wily politicians are now cleverly trying to dig deep potholes into…!
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