Spiritual activism and national unity in a time of divisionBy Nabil Ouassini

In the aftermath of the elections, division and hate in our society seems to be more apparent than ever. The recent tragic murders of Ricky John Best and Taliesin Myrddin Mankai Meche, two heroic Samaritans stabbed to death by a well-known white supremacist for defending two minority women in a Portland MAX train, is an example of how toxic rhetoric leads to hostility and violence. Unfortunately, politicians are using divisions in race, religion, national origin, disability, sexual orientation, and gender identity as a political strategy without any concern with the subsequent consequences. These divisions work well for the politicians that pursue and regard their personal political interests as more advantageous than affirming the core national values they are supposed to represent.

In response to these divisions, spiritual activists should join together to uphold the values of dignity, justice, equality, and mutual respect. These ideals are universal and transcend politics, culture, religion, or other perceived divisions between our fellow citizens. The emphasis on peace, love, and unity in our nation is of the greatest importance as the divisions are taking the focus away from the critical issues that require our utmost consideration. Along with endorsing hate speech and normalizing racism, public figures continue to deny climate change and its effects on future generations despite the overwhelming evidence and consensus from the scientific community. The efforts by Ajit Pai and the FCC to undermine the Internet’s neutrality is one of the greatest threats to the future of our democracy. Instead of treating all Internet traffic equally, the current administration wants to authorize Internet service providers to decrease Internet speeds to certain websites and charge customers extra fees for higher speeds. The Justice Department is reversing years of work in reforming criminal justice. The House proposed alternative to the Affordable Care Act will leave 23 million Americans uninsured according to the Congressional Budget Office. More importantly, there are efforts to foster the economic insecurity of our vulnerable citizens by undercutting Medicaid, food stamps, disability payments, and other programs designed to alleviate poverty.

Times like these require spiritual activists to stand up, confront these issues head-on, and speak out on behalf of the marginalized. There is always a time for individual advocacy and volunteering in our local communities. However, spiritual activists must also unite and confront many of the issues previously described at a larger scale. It is time that we work to transform these institutions for justice while holding politicians accountable for whether their actions correspond with their purported values or self interests. As the Quran in 4:135 states, “O you who believe, be the supporters of justice and testify to what you may have witnessed, for the sake of God, even against yourselves, parents, and relatives; whether it be against the rich or the poor. God must be given preference over them. Let not your desires cause you to commit injustice. If you deviate from the truth in your testimony, or decline to give your testimony at all, know that God is Well Aware of what you do.”

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