April 5, 2015

An Easter Message

Easter sunrise, 2015/veritablepastiche
Today is a day of celebration for some, a deeply religious holiday for those who celebrate that The Son is risen. For others, it's a 'normal' day, filled with content that the sun has risen.

For me, being in the latter half of that equation, Easter Sunday has always been a day of family, food and laughter, with heavy emphasis on the laughter part, certainly while my Dad was alive, and we have done well to keep that going since he's been gone.

When we were kids, we colored eggs, and had our Easter egg hunts, searching high and low for the ones we had colored and the coveted plastic ones with coins or jelly beans inside them.  I can picture my brothers, one and two years older than me, and taller, wandering around the house on Easter morning, checking things out, making mental notes of where the good ones were. My oldest brother had a way of tilting his head and raising an eyebrow when he saw a treasure waiting in what I'm sure Mom and Dad thought was a particularly good hiding place.

I also remember us getting chided by my Dad, for doing reconnaissance before he and Mom got up, for trying to take more than our fair share, not playing well together, and so on.

Even though we stopped going to church when we were young, around nine or ten I think, there was always an expectation  that we would 'behave' appropriately.  Not just from a discipline perspective, such as riding your bike into the charcoal grill (me), or succumbing to peer pressure and shoplifting (me), or playing with matches (NOT me), or a classic, 'spelling' bad words by writing 7734 upside-down (yeah that was me again), but from the larger perspective too.

You did not need to go to church, you did not need to believe that Christ died on the cross, or in the Resurrection, or in the rest of it, to understand that treating people fairly and with respect was the right thing to do, that taking everything you saw or could get your hands on and leaving others with nothing was the wrong thing to do, that being mean and calling people names or picking on people who were 'different' was not acceptable, or that being charitable, even to your annoying little sister, was the better path to take.

Surely, we did not learn these lessons perfectly, sometimes to the chagrin of my Methodist mom and my non-religious Dad, but I suspect they hadn't learned the lessons perfectly either. My Dad never met a dumb blond joke he didn't like, for example, and never missed an episode of All in the Family, but made sure that 'Polack' jokes became 'Peter, Andy and Susan' jokes.  They never stopped trying - and never stopped encouraging us, through word and deed, to keep trying as well, not because there'll be a place for us in Heaven if we do, but because our place on Earth can be better for the effort.

And that's where we are today, some 45 or 50 years later. Our collective place on Earth can be better for the effort, for the simple wisdom that we were taught when we were kids:
Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. 
Let's not do things to others in the name of our religious beliefs or our politics that we would not willingly accept if done to us by others in the name of their religious beliefs or their politics.

Let's not be the reason why, in what is arguably the greatest democracy in the history of the world, we need to have laws on the books reminding us that we cannot discriminate against others based on their
race, color, religion, ancestry, age, national origin, disability, sex, sexual orientation, gender identify, or United States military service
This doesn't mean that we can't find things distasteful, or that we have to like everyone, or that our circle of friends needs to look like a Target ad or an Applebee's commercial or the stock photos we see in our company's publications, or that we have to agree with everyone on everything, or even that we have to understand everyone else.

After all, we are not perfect, and I don't think (for believers or non-believers) that perfection is the expectation. But can we strive to do better, be more accepting, more tolerant, more forgiving, more understanding?

Make room. Do unto others.

Happy Easter.