Dallas Morning News,
Each week we will post a question to a panel of about two dozen clergy, laity and theologians, all of whom are based in Texas or are from Texas. They will chime in with their responses to the question of the week. And you, readers, will be able to respond to their answers through the comment box.
By the time this answer gets posted, Election Day will have arrived. The presidential campaigns will have made their closing arguments. Supporters will have advocated for their candidate. And, if polls are any guide, Americans will be pretty evenly divided.
So, barring another Florida, America will wake up Wednesday with one side joyously happy and another bitterly disappointed. Or, that’s how core supporters of Barack Obama and Mitt Romney will feel. The losing side will be tempted to demonize those who voted for the winner. And the winner’s supporters will be tempted to gloat about the victory.
Neither response will help the country move forward as one. Neither response will help us move beyond the politics of division. And neither will help us realize that we really function best as a country when we balance individuality with community.
With that in mind, here’s the question for this week:
“What is the message that different faith traditions can send about the importance of being one?”
NITYANANDA CHANDRA DAS, minister of ISKCON (International Society for Krishna Consciousness), Dallas
Everyone speaks about some so-called brotherhood, but generally there is no mention of the father. Unless we can recognize the supreme fatherhood of God, we will never realize any sort of brotherhood or unity. As long as people speak in terms of ‘my’ God and ‘your’ God or ‘there is no God’ there will be no factual brotherhood whatsoever.
In the United Nations, for instance, all the nations have their particular national ambitions, and consequently they cannot be united.
In a Krishna Conscious, or God Conscious, society, individuals have the mutual goal of giving pleasure to the Supreme Father. The ripples caused by stones thrown in a pool at one point do not interfere with other ripples. Rather, they create strength.
Similarly, the God Conscious help each other rather than compete. A true leader protects all prajas (those born in his kingdom) - not just the Caucasians or African Americans, but all creatures - from injustice. Thus there is the most often ignored commandment, thou shalt not kill.
In regard to oneness, advaita, in theism the Vedas exclaim unity in diversity. Hence the oneness of God must not overshadow His diversity. God is in everything but God is not so impotent that He loses His own individual existence. Just as the sunlight spreads everywhere but the Sun planet continues to exist.