Stuart McMillan with the volunteers of Gie’s Peace
Faith is a very personal, very private matter to me. I was raised Catholic, went to Catholic primary and secondary schools, and am sponsor and godfather to more than a few young family members. Yet while I don’t consider it a small part of myself by any means, it’s also something that I don’t really engage in conversation about. I envy people who can discuss it openly, debate ideas and perspectives, even promote and advocate it. But for me, I try to find common values in my fellow human regardless of faith, or indeed lack thereof – basic humanitarian, even humanist, ideas of community, aid, support, and understanding. The idea of helping those in need is not exclusive to any creed, nor is the notion of loving one another, or what is known as the Golden Rule – treat others as you would like to be treated.
Growing up, I read about all the world’s religions – I found it necessary if I was to understand the many cultures and societies around the globe which drew from their faiths throughout their history. I developed a particular fondness for Jainism and Sikhism. Unfortunately, as I grew up in the West Coast, the spectre of sectarianism started to rear its ugly head in my conscience, as I became aware of the meaning behind people asking me what school I went to, if I went to “chapel” or “church,” whether I worshipped the Virgin Mary. Whether I believed in God. Whether I really drank blood and ate human flesh. Whether I wanted to join the IRA and kill people.
As I said, unwelcome. This is part of the reason I’m so reluctant to discuss religion, as it inevitably leads to policy. I cannot discuss matters like faith schools, religious education, equal marriage, the OBFA, and other topics, because frankly, I don’t want to discuss something so emotive that I risk losing my head over it. I certainly can’t talk about religion in regards to Scottish independence. Nonetheless, just because I don’t want to talk about it doesn’t mean I feel others shouldn’t, which is why I was extremely proud to see people from all walks of life at the SNP conference speak on subjects like LGBT and women’s issues. We’re clearly in a much more open and frank place than we were even twenty years ago, after the nightmare of the Troubles and the AIDS crisis.
Over the decades, things are much better. Sectarianism is openly discussed through projects like Nil by Mouth and Gie’s Peace; reported sectarian crimes have fallen; and the Shawlands vigil for Asad Shah showed that people from all faiths can share in grief in a powerful stand against the supposed motivations for his death. So, while Easter is not universally observed, I think it’s a good time to reflect on the world we want to be part of. For all the horrific atrocities and senseless violence in the world, there are also great acts of kindness and spontaneous affirmations of common humanity. I take solace in that every Good Friday has an Easter Sunday not too far away.
This is the sum of duty; do naught onto others what you would not have them do unto you.
– Mahabharata 5:1517
Do for one who may do for you, that you may cause him thus to do.
– The Eloquent Peasant
Avoid doing what you would blame others for doing.
– Thales, Diogenes Laërtius’ Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers
In happiness and suffering, in joy and grief, we should regard all creatures as we regard our own self.
– Lord Mahavir 24th Tirthankara
Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
– Luke 6:31
Do not do to others what you would not like yourself. Then there will be no resentment against you, either in the family or in the state.
– Confucius, Analects 12:2
Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful.
– Buddha, Udanavarga 5:18
“None of you [truly] believes until he wishes for his brother what he wishes for himself.”
- An-Nawawi’s Forty Hadith 13
What is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow: this is the whole Torah; the rest is the explanation; go and learn.
- Shabbath folio:31a, Babylonian Talmud
Regard your neighbor’s gain as your gain, and your neighbor’s loss as your own loss.
– T’ai-Shang Kan-Yin P’ien
That nature alone is good which refrains from doing another whatsoever is not good for itself.
– Dadisten-I-dinik, 94:5
Respect for all life is the foundation.
I command thee thus, O children of the Earth, that that which ye deem harmful unto thyself, the very same shall ye be forbidden from doing unto another, for violence and hatred give rise to the same.
– The Book of Ways
An’ it harm no one, do what thou wilt.
– The Wiccan Rede
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