Terrible darkness moved out of the shadows and into our national and global psyche last weekend in Pittsburg. Spurred on by hatred, ignorance, and a growing culture of civic unrest that increasingly divides, alienates, and deprecates those different than ourselves, a gunman attacked the Tree of Life Jewish Congregation killing eleven men and women, and injuring more.
The thoughts and prayers of members of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) reach out to the families and friends of the victims of this senseless act. We are deeply saddened and shocked. We pray for each and every member of the congregation and for all our Jewish friends.
There have been far too many of these attacks in recent years in the United States and around their world. Sadly, the number of incidents and victims are growing, fed by anti-Semitism, racism, Islamaphobia, and religious and nationalist extremism of many varieties. Churches are attacked. Gurdwars are attacked. Temples are attacked. Synagogues are attacked. Schools are attacked. In each situation lives are shattered, and we are left wondering--why so much anger and hate?
Hate-filled violence can only feed more violence. We join with the voices of millions of people across the United States and the world praying for increased understanding and respect for all peoples, races, and minorities. We call upon the leaders of the world, be they religious, political, academic, or social, to set examples of inclusiveness, cooperation and mutual care. And, to stop stoking the fires of anger and divisiveness that may yield short term political or financial gain, but ultimately—history has proven—lead to the degradation of all of us.
Lord Krishna says in the Bhagavad-gita, “I am the seed giving Father of all beings.” We share a common source and common planet. We are all made of the same spirit, and thus our shared existence far outweighs whatever differences of color, race or creed that may seem to separate us.
As we mourn for our sisters and brothers in Pittsburg, we stand together in hope that voices of reason, affection and spiritual vision will prevail. And, we pray that we may all become leaders in showing by our words and actions how to respect and love others.
For none of us—whether Jewish, Hindu, Christian, Muslim, Bahai, Sikh, Buddhist, or persons of no religious persuasion—can ever be peaceful or safe if we tolerate persecution, aggression, and violence against another.
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