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Easter and my trip to the Holy Land

Bill FoxBy Bill Fox/Columnist

About 20 years ago my wife and I had an opportunity to join a group visiting the Holy Land.

The idea that we would ever visit Jerusalem, Nazareth, Bethlehem, and The Sea of Galilee was beyond our wildest dreams, but it did happen!  The three places that most impressed me were The Sea of Galilee, the Mount of the Beatitudes and the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus retreated just before his crucifixion. These three sites were very untouched and it was easy to imagine them, even today, as places were Jesus spent time. Most of the other sites had drastically changed and developed over the centuries.

One could not help but realize that the baffling growth of early Christianity, despite opposition and Roman persecution, was due to the fact that Jesus of Nazareth really did rise from the dead. If the crucifixion was about everything that is bad about the world, Easter is about how we can be free from everything bad. For Christians, Easter commemorates the fact that the resurrection of Jesus Christ changed something fundamental about the world and about humanity. In the end, the meaning of Easter is as simple as it seems: it says that life triumphs over death.

I always find it amazing, maybe more so at this time of the year, that Jesus preached, among other things, a simple message that is a part of most major world religions even those that predated Christianity.

“So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets” – Matthew 7:12. We are more familiar with hearing this as “The Golden Rule”.

With a little research I found versions of the same rule in other major religions as outlined below

From the Baha’i Faith: “Blessed is he who preferreth his brother before himself.”

“And if thine eyes be turned towards justice, choose thou for thy neighbour that which thou choosest for thyself.”

From Brahmanism: “This is the sum of Dharma [duty]: Do naught unto others which would cause you pain if done to you”.

From Buddhism: “One should seek for others the happiness one desires for oneself.”

“A state that is not pleasing or delightful to me, how could I inflict that upon another?”

In Confucianism: “Try your best to treat others as you would wish to be treated yourself, and you will find that this is the shortest way to benevolence.”

From Hinduism: “This is the sum of duty: do not do to others what which would cause pain if done to you.”

In Islam: “None of you [truly] believes until he wishes for his brother what he wishes for himself.”

From Jainism:  “A man should wander about treating all creatures as he himself would be treated. ”

In the Jewish Faith: “…thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” And also  “What is hateful to you, do not to your fellow man. This is the law: all the rest is commentary.”

From our North American Native Spirituality: “Respect for all life is the foundation.”-From The Great Law of Peace.”

Also attributed to Black Elk: “All things are our relatives and what we do to everything, we do to ourselves.  All is really One.”

Perhaps you don’t have the same beliefs as your dad or as your son. These beliefs are what make you a different person.  Your approach towards God, evil and spirituality imparts individuality to you, as does your cultural heritage.  Or maybe, how conservative or liberal (not political-wise) you are reflects in your decisions and makes you different from all others.

Regardless of all our differences, here we are at Easter, maybe realizing that we have much more in common with our fellow man, than perhaps we realized, seeing as in one way or another, The Golden Rule is part of all of our heritage.

May this Easter be a time when we all aspire to follow the Golden Rule in all our affairs.

I’m at bdfox@rogers.com if you wish to comment.