A few days after print publication, Knight's syndicated newspaper column, which moves twice a week, will be posted. The most recent will appear at the top.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

March special for many religions, which share much

Bill Knight column for Mon., Tues. or Wed., March 4, 5 or 6

March may have come in like a lion, albeit a rather timid one, but the month was launched Friday with an unusual convergence of cultural touchstones that could make you feel chomped by modernity. As if everyday people really, really need to feel bad, what with the Pope retiring as if he had the sweetened pension of an ex-school superintendent Illinois lawmaker, talk of a “sequester” getting Americans to dust off their dictionaries, and baseball’s Spring Training happening without you thankyouverymuch.

Anyway, first, March is Frozen Food Month, according to the National Frozen & Refrigerated Foods Association, which notes that this Ice-a-pa-loonza is the 30th annual hoo-hah.

However, in an entry from the Ridiculous-to-the-Sublime Dept., March also started with the World Day of Prayer, a global movement of Christian women of many traditions who encourage people to observe a common day of prayer each year on the first Friday of March.

That’s more like it, when it comes to March – nothing against frozen fish, pizzas, veggies yogurt and (a personal favorite) Ore-Ida Southern Style Diced Hash Browns, or, for that matter, March Madness, the Iditarod and kite-friendly winds.

Originally started in 1920 by the Women's Inter-Church Council of Canada, the World Day of Prayer is a nice way to stretch out for Spring. It’s an ecumenical, if not yet interfaith, way to warm up. Who wants to pull a muscle, even a spiritual one?

Many months have different significance to different faiths, of course, but March!

Catholics celebrate the feasts of St. Patrick (March 17) and St. Joseph (March 19), and Jews celebrate Passover March 25 - April 2. But there’s much more.

Hindus celebrate March 10 as Shivaratri, and Zoroastrians and Bahá’ís alike celebrate New Year’s Day (“Naw-Rúz”) on March 21. Also on March 21, a daily devotional Qur’an reading says, “Who can be better in religion than one who submits his whole self to God, does good, and follows the way of Abraham the true in faith?”(An-Nisa 4:125)

March 24 is Palm / Passion Sunday for Christians; March 27 is Magha Puja Day for Buddhists. Christians also celebrate Easter Holy Week March 28-31 and Sikhs mark Hola Mohalla on March 28.

Hindus also have a spring festival March 27: Holi.

That word – Holi – is coincidentally like “holiday,” itself derived from “Holy Day,” but it’s arguably no coincidence that human beings’ many ways to worship share a remarkably similar tenet some call the Golden Rule.

Why appreciate humanity’s occasional oneness? Sometimes faith can drift to arrogance, where one’s beliefs are embraced so tightly that they exclude or attack others. Exclusion and intolerance occasionally arise elsewhere, of course, separating ourselves with barriers of gender, geography or most anything between. But the walls can come down.

The Golden Rule, or “ethic of reciprocity,” is so pervasive that one wonders whether it’s part of our DNA: In ancient Greece, the philosopher Thales said, “Avoid doing what you would blame others for doing.”

The Baha’i faith recalls Baha’u’llah saying, “Blessed is he who preferreth his brother before himself”; Buddhists’ study Dhammapada’s saying: “One who, while seeking happiness, oppresses with violence other beings who also desire happiness, will not attain happiness.”

In Christianity, the Gospels’ Luke says, “And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them”; in Confucianism, it’s “Treat others as you would wish to be treated yourself. This is the shortest way to benevolence.”

Hinduism’s Mahabharata scripture says, “One should never do that to another which one regards as injurious to one’s own self”; in Islam, “Not one of you is a believer until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself.” In Jainism, adherents read, “A man should wander about treating all creatures as he himself would be treated”; Judaism’s Torah has Leviticus commanding, “The stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself”; and Taoism’s T’ai Shang Kan Ying P’ien is quoted: “Regard your neighbor’s gain as your own gain, and your neighbor’s loss as your own loss.”

Feel better about humanity?

Then reward yourself! Recommended: Phone Schwan and ask for their frozen Pasta Shells Stuffed with Cheese.

[PICTURED: A Saturday Evening Post cover with Norman Rockwell's 1961 illustration.]

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