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Jewish World Review
May 17, 2006
/ 19 Iyar, 5766
Great Expectations: Faith, Hope and the Battle of Ideas
Time for believers worldwide to unite through technology in an effort to reclaim the goodness of humanity
G.K.Chesterton could have been writing about
our world today when he stated: "we are all in
the same boat on a stormy sea, and owe each
other a terrible loyalty".
Yet, threatened by enemies so hideous and
evil they murder children in houses of worship,
and decapitate the heads of the innocent, we
remain dangerously divided against each other
and strangely defensive in what is truly a world- wide battle of ideas.
Any of us, today, can go to the website of the
World War II Memorial and enter the names of
our forebears who served in the great war of
the greatest generation, as I entered the name
of my father, who served with bravery as an
Army medic in the Battle of Bastogne, and was wounded himself while
tending the wounds of his band of brothers.
We can still walk the grounds of the Memorial
in Washington, and while the hourglass now
runs out of sand, we can still shake the hands
of the surviving heroes, in the twilight of their
lives, who saved freedom from fascism. Few
moments are more moving, than watching as
many as four generations of a family, together
possibly for the last time, reliving those days
and reminding us that freedom and faith are
timeless, must be cherished and defended,
and that for those to whom much is given, much is asked.
Pope John Paul II,in my estimation one of the
greatest leaders who ever walked the earth,
spoke often about the common values and
aspirations of the diverse faiths of the world.
He took particular joy in uplifting the spirits
and vision of young people, and was creative
in communicating his message through old
and new media alike.
Throughout American history, at key moments
our leaders have been able to compete in our
domestic debates but rise to more uplifting
heights reflecting the great expectations of
Franklin Roosevelt lifted the spirits of the nation
during the Depression saying we have nothing
to fear but fear itself, and when freedom's
heroes were landing at Normandy he spoke
to them and the conscience of the world with
a broadcast prayer. John Kennedy spoke
brilliantly of the battle of ideas and reminded
us that "Here on earth, G-d's work must truly
be our own". Ronald Reagan spoke of America
as a city on a hill, and his abiding faith fueled
his aspiration and achievement of a world less
threatened by nuclear annihilation.
We live in an age that followed the triumph over
fascism, communism and totalitarianism that
has still not ended the reality of genocide; an
age where freedom and democracy flourish
but hunger, hopelessness and futility exist
far too often; an age where communications
bring people and nations increasingly close
together, while misunderstanding and hatreds
persist too often, and too many children grow up weighing the scales of
hope and faith,
against the temptation of the murderous death of the suicide bomber.
The left, right and center agree on very little,
but often agree on this: far too often the voices of competing extremes
of anger and rage, the
"newsworthy" horrors, deepest hates and bloody results overwhelm, in
the higher truths and greater aspirations of
the "silent majority" expressed by the leaders
of the great faiths of the world.
So, I offer this idea: Why not a gathering of
leaders of the great religions, to pray, to teach,
to come together in a spirit of understanding?
To inspire us, educate us, lift our sights, our spirits and our
aspirations for ourselves and our world? To remind us, of the great
share; and to appeal to the young in life and
the young at heart and show us the light of
faith, hope and inspiration as the answer to
murder, hate and misunderstanding.
It is true: today in some dark corners, there are
those who would seek to annihilate our cities
with nuclear terror; to threaten Israel or some
other hated target with destruction; to destroy
enemies in ethnic, racial or religious wars of
those filled with hate. It is also true: in other
corners there are young people with nobler
dreams and prayers, to coexist hopefully
with love from faith, or at least with mutual
respect based on the shared hope of a better
life and a world where they are free to reach
the greatest heights of their dreams.
And, it is true, that one of our most powerful
answers to the demented crimes of 9-11, and
those recruiting to attempt the next 9-11; are
not only military, intelligence, and police actions
which are part of the solution, but a louder,
stronger, clearer, more universal appeal to the
better angels of our nature, based on the
great faiths of the world, which have inspired the noblest aspirations
for time immemorial.
How it would remind us, inspire us and teach
us to see the leaders of the faiths convening
together; speaking of understanding and hope
to young people everywhere; broadcast to
the entire world; allowing some inter-action
and communication through the internet
between the clergy and "the flock"; having
questions asked and answered that would
lift our spirits and create new levels of
understanding, tolerance and cooperation.
Why not, if such a gathering of world religious
leaders is ever convened, open its door, in a
Davos-like setting, to the leaders of business
and media, to athletes and actors and authors
of diverse faiths, leaving their differences at the
door, to offer suggestions of how they can
better help our country and world meet the
great challenges of our times?
Why not, no matter how the sorry state of our
national politics concludes with the next
election, dedicate ourselves, beginning the
hour the voting ends, to seek a Lincolnesque
reconciliation with each other, a halt to the
politics of vindictiveness and division, and a
reaching out for a new national unity of shared
purpose, values and patriotism?
While offered with modesty, these are not
modest proposals, but they are in the tradition
of the common values of the great faiths, the common denominators of the
great moments in our history, and the common asprations of hearts and
minds everywhere for a world of
hope over hate and dignity over injustice.
Why not try to dream great dreams again, think big thoughts again, share
great expectations again based on the truism that we are, indeed,
in the same boat on a stormy sea and do,
indeed, owe each other a terrible loyalty.
Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in Washington and the media consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.
JWR contributor Brent Budowsky is a former aide to Sen. Lloyd Bentsen and the House Democratic Leadership with business interests since 1990, including entertainment and corporate public affairs. To comment, please click here.
© 2006, Brent Budowsky