Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Give Peace A Chance!

Father Richard F. Gorman,
Chairman Community Board #12 (The Bronx)
Reviled by some for his political views and positions on several of the “hot” topics of his day, Beatle John Lennon is, nevertheless, admired on a nearly universal basis for his contributions to music and to song. Indeed, so much of his handiwork has become part and parcel of our musical history and heritage. 
This week, I take the title of my column from that of one of John Lennon’s most popular and frequently recollected songs. Aside from its melodic value, this song pronounces some common sense and constructive wisdom to the inhabitants of a world that appears to be hell-bent on mindless violence in far too many ways as of late. What mindless horror and violence we all have witnessed  --  and some have had to endure  -- in recent days and weeks! In a land that the world’s major religions acclaim as “holy,” conflict reigns in the place of concord. More time and energy are invested in strife than in inventing formulas for serenity. The consequence is terror and tears being shed in the day-by-day life of blameless and harmless non-combatants.  United States military personnel continue to fight in Afghanistan in a war against terror that has now gained the indecorous recognition of being America’s longest conflict. To the West, in Iran, the threat of nuclear proliferation looms larger and larger as incensed arguments and cross counter-arguments are exchanged ad infinitum.  
Oh, but that the violence would linger abroad and not afflict our own shores. Violent crime, illicit drugs, the abuse of both the young and the old, invasion of personal domicile and privacy  --  all these acts of cruelty and carnage are recognizable daily occurrences in our supposedly “civil” society. Good manners and common decency regularly seem to be accorded short shrift and utilized in rather meager quantities right here in our own neighborhood. Courtesy is lacking both on our highways and even waiting on line in our supermarkets. Some who aspire to leadership in our neighborhood denigrate and destroy rather than commend and congratulate the good-will undertakings of others.  Falsity and fantasy are peddled as truth with misrepresentation splattered about with aplomb. Angry arguments substitute for considered and comprehensive discourse in both the printed and the spoken word. Some project their own dark thoughts and faults and ascribe their insincere intentions with lack of both restraint and inhibition on to those categorized as enemies, whether for real or imagined purposes. Confidences and matters revealed in trust are betrayed. Local meetings are marred by words that are intended to insult and/or to inflame as opposed to enlighten. Hypocritical attempts to disguise personal animosity for community dialogue mar public debate. Outright propaganda is peddled as truth in a stratagem to superimpose imaginary fault on others in order to shroud one’s own shortcomings. Too often, those who have nothing to share save self-aggrandizement, unwarranted criticism, or sheer unwarranted and uncontrollable anger abuse the so-called “right to be heard and to have one’s say.” 
As Rodney King so poignantly inquired, “Can’t we all just get along together?” Well, in my humble opinion, the response to said question is a definite “YES!” Moreover, the manner in which we can do so is unearthed in the words of yet another musical composition created by the late John Lennon  --  himself a heartbreaking victim of violence in our beloved City  --  and his Beatle collaborator, Sir Paul McCarthy, entitled “ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE.” 
Now, here’s a word used and abused habitually in contemporary society! LOVE?!?!? What is that? Permit me to get straight to the point without further delay. So much of what causes insult and injury to others could be short-circuited or even eradicated by adherence to a simply stated and respected principle of life and moral behavior. One should treat another as he/she wishes to be treated. An individual should not do to another person what he/she would not want to be done to them. Furthermore, a righteous man or woman ought not to permit any other Child of God to be acted toward in any fashion that he/she would find objectionable and/or would wish to avoid. This, my dear friends and neighbors, is not novel guidance. It is not an insight into the vicissitudes of life that is of recent origin. Judeo-Christian theology and morality has proclaimed it for over five millennia.  In fact, Christians, such as myself, believe that God came personally, in the person of His Son, Jesus Christ, to teach us this way to eternal life. Our Islamic sisters and brothers acclaim it as a basic rule of holy and correct living as well.   
So, what’s the problem? May I humbly propose that there is nothing wrong with this “GOLDEN RULE” per se but with our inadequate and insufficient application of it. NOW is as good a time as any to get with the program. “DO UNTO OTHERS AS YOU WOULD HAVE THEM DO UNTO YOU.” This is wisdom from throughout the centuries. This is wisdom that is appropriate and required for our own day and age. This is wisdom that should be practiced and lived  --  right here and right now! 
Until next time, that’s it for this time!   

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