TAHOE, Calif. — In this hyper-connected, virtual world, it may seem rather quaint to ask the question “Who is my neighbor?”
Physical space no longer defines our social circles; the community centers where we listen, share, and learn are now digital, not downtown. But this primary spiritual question is very much alive in the modern world — in fact, at the heart of violence that flares in homes, in schools, in communities, among nations.
Because in the split second when ordinary conflict turns to violence, we cut ourselves off.
The person before us becomes not a neighbor in this world, a human like us, walking the earth with simple longings and fears. The person before us becomes an enemy, the threatening “Other.” And by drawing this dividing line, through thought or action, we cut ourselves off — not only from them, but from our own humanity and from the Higher Source that connects us all.
CLOSE THE DIVIDE
It’s a dividing impulse we all feel — that humans have struggled with across time, across cultures and societies, across every kind of relationship. It’s an inner habit of suspicion and fear that every religion and wisdom tradition has addressed in the spiritual teaching to “Love thy neighbor.” And it’s a potential trigger for violence that our Tahoe/Reno community has chosen to address in a 2013 International Day of Peace event for all our neighbors.
On Saturday, Sept. 21, a coalition of North Lake Tahoe faith-based and social service organizations — United for Action — is offering you a morning called “A World of Peace, A World of Neighbors” to learn skills for day-to-day peacemaking, honor victims of violence, and promote harmony in our community.
Co-sponsored by the Alternatives to Violence Project, North Tahoe Hebrew Congregation, St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church, Kings Beach United Methodist Church, St. Nicholas Episcopal Church, Center for Spiritual Living Tahoe-Truckee, Universal Society of Hinduism, and North Tahoe Family Resource Center, this interfaith community event is free and open to all.
From 9-11:15 a.m., at the North Tahoe Hebrew Congregation (7000 Latone Ave., Tahoe Vista), Rita Sloan of the Alternatives to Violence Project will present an interactive workshop with creative, fun exercises to help us better understand how to resolve conflict situations in a more positive, productive manner — and how to turn those situations into opportunities for growth.
At 11:30 a.m., we will then gather at the Tahoe Vista Recreation Area (small plaza across from the lake, North Lake Boulevard at National Avenue) for an interfaith peace service to remember victims of violence and reflect on the universal teaching of “Love thy neighbor.” Together, we will envision a world in which we overcome the dividing impulse — a world in which everybody offers a teenager a ride home in the rain.
To sign up for the free workshop (adults and teens welcome) or for more information, contact Rabbi Meredith Cahn at 530-546-0895; firstname.lastname@example.org or Rev. Clare Novak at 775-831-1418; email@example.com.
Peace be with you!
Rev. Clare C. Novak is the Associate for Interfaith Ministry at St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church, Incline Village