On Tolerance

On this point, Rumi, Boccaccio and Lessing – the Muslim, the Catholic, and the Protestant who launched the drive for the emancipation of Europe’s Jews – see things very much eye-to-eye. But their message is a vital one for our day. We live in an age in which thoughts of crusaders and caliphates have been resurrected for shameful and blood-drenched purposes. This must be overcome with urgency.

So for the New Year, I wish what Rumi wishes – not a rejection of faith, but a faith more profound, based on tolerance, compassion and respect for the ties that bind humankind. I wish that the land where Rumi once walked – from his native city of Balkh in Afghanistan to his final home in Anatolian Konya – would know his thoughts and hopes again, and the peace that they promise. But I wish the same thing for my fellow citizens at home in the United States, where the poison of religious bigotry seeps ever closer to the groundwater. I hope we all can find that way “between voice and presence” of which Rumi writes. We need it badly. “With disciplined silence it opens/ With wandering talk it closes.” So here’s a resolve for the New Year: Let us find the tools to keep that window open. There is nothing that humanity requires more urgently than this.–Scott Horton

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