Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Cooperation Over Conflict

So long as our relationship is defined by our differences, we will empower those who sow hatred rather than peace, those who promote conflict rather than the cooperation that can help all of our people achieve justice and prosperity. And this cycle of suspicion and discord must end. ~ President Barack Obama

Yesterday I posted a link on my Facebook page with the "Does your hair feel like mine, Mr. President" picture and link ( What followed, surprised and amazed me. The first response was a beautiful one that expressed a friend's self-identification with the picture, quote and link that it lead her to tears.

It is truly a beautiful and amazing time to see an African American president within the life time of the civil rights movement. Whether you like President Obama or not, the accomplishment and all that goes with it, are an amazing symbol of progress.

Yet, what followed was a reply from someone who used the term, "Negro", and completely disrespected the other person's heartfelt experience and comments. A not so pleasant exchanged occurred and by the time I got online to read it, I was left stunned and amazed. How is it possible that we continue to live in a world in which people not only show disrespect for others by calling people names, but also that when there is a difference of opinions, that the conversation can not stay respectful.

As I have moved into a more loving, accepting and respectful place in my own life, I have come to respect and honor people for our differences, but also for our similarities. We are all ONE. It really is that simple, and as long as we continue to see differences and address each other disrespectfully, we will only continue to manifest the situations that divide us - war, hatred, racism, discrimination and so on.

After having heard the President's speech in Cairo,, which focused on peace and harmony, rather than discord and suspicion. It was a beautiful speech that articulated what so many of us feel and want to see happen in the world.

As many others, I want to live in a world in which we see progress for our youth, in which people choose love over fear and respect over hatred. I want to know a world in which we can hear each other, choose respectful words and embrace our differences and show dignity and compassion. I want to live in world in which religion, culture, ethnicity and other differences are honored and yet our common humanity continues to connect us.

It is time for the disrespect, hatred and violence to end. We all have an opportunity to choose the peaceful alternative in our own lives. How will you choose so today and every day? Be the change and inspire others through your actions in your own life!

Additional quotes from President Obama's Cairo speech:

I am convinced that in order to move forward, we must say openly to each other the things we hold in our hearts and that too often are said only behind closed doors. There must be a sustained effort to listen to each other; to learn from each other; to respect one another; and to seek common ground.

And I believe that America holds within her the truth that regardless of race, religion, or station in life, all of us share common aspirations -- to live in peace and security; to get an education and to work with dignity; to love our families, our communities, and our God. These things we share. This is the hope of all humanity.

Of course, recognizing our common humanity is only the beginning of our task. Words alone cannot meet the needs of our people. These needs will be met only if we act boldly in the years ahead; and if we understand that the challenges we face are shared, and our failure to meet them will hurt us all.

For human history has often been a record of nations and tribes -- and, yes, religions -- subjugating one another in pursuit of their own interests. Yet in this new age, such attitudes are self-defeating. Given our interdependence, any world order that elevates one nation or group of people over another will inevitably fail. So whatever we think of the past, we must not be prisoners to it. Our problems must be dealt with through partnership; our progress must be shared.

The enduring faith of over a billion people is so much bigger than the narrow hatred of a few. Too many tears have been shed. Too much blood has been shed. All of us have a responsibility to work for the day when the mothers of Israelis and Palestinians can see their children grow up without fear; when the Holy Land of the three great faiths is the place of peace that God intended it to be; when Jerusalem is a secure and lasting home for Jews and Christians and Muslims, and a place for all of the children of Abraham to mingle peacefully together as in the story of Isra, when Moses, Jesus, and Mohammed, peace be upon them, joined in prayer.

Our common prosperity will be advanced by allowing all humanity -- men and women -- to reach their full potential. I do not believe that women must make the same choices as men in order to be equal, and I respect those women who choose to live their lives in traditional roles. But it should be their choice.

There's so much fear, so much mistrust that has built up over the years. But if we choose to be bound by the past, we will never move forward. And I want to particularly say this to young people of every faith, in every country -- you, more than anyone, have the ability to reimagine the world, to remake this world.

All of us share this world for but a brief moment in time. The question is whether we spend that time focused on what pushes us apart, or whether we commit ourselves to an effort -- a sustained effort -- to find common ground, to focus on the future we seek for our children, and to respect the dignity of all human beings.

It's easier to start wars than to end them. It's easier to blame others than to look inward. It's easier to see what is different about someone than to find the things we share. But we should choose the right path, not just the easy path. There's one rule that lies at the heart of every religion -- that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us. (Applause.) This truth transcends nations and peoples -- a belief that isn't new; that isn't black or white or brown; that isn't Christian or Muslim or Jew. It's a belief that pulsed in the cradle of civilization, and that still beats in the hearts of billions around the world. It's a faith in other people...

We have the power to make the world we seek, but only if we have the courage to make a new beginning, keeping in mind what has been written.

~ President Barack Obama

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