A Lesson from Children on Values-Based Leadership and Spirituality
I often reflect on how unfortunate it is that people in many situations focus on the differences in our spiritual beliefs rather than focusing on the many things the great majority of us share in common: Treating one another the way we want to be treated (the “golden rule”), giving one another the benefit of the doubt, forgiving one another when we make mistakes, making the world a better place for our children, etc.
However, being an optimist, I believe firmly that we have the capacity to do better, and I believe that heart-warming stories like the following one attest to this fact:
As you may know, today Muslims worldwide celebrated “Eid-ul-Fitr”, the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. During the past month, Muslims fasted during the whole day (as they do every Ramadan) — which means no food or drinks (including water!) between sunrise and sunset — as a way to purify themselves and achieve a higher level of spirituality. For Muslims, Ramadan is intended to help teach self-discipline, self-restraint, and generosity and serves as a reminder of the suffering of the poor, who may rarely get to eat well. Each evening, Muslims break their fast with a meal called “Iftar”, which is a time to give thanks and celebrate with family and friends. Typically, neighbors also share Iftar dishes with each other. The following photo shows the children of a Muslim friend of mine making such an “Iftar delivery” a week or so ago to one of their neighbors in Philadelphia.
But here’s the fantastic part of the story: These neighbors aren’t even Muslim — they’re Jewish!
Notice that there is a poster on the neighbor’s gate that says “Hate has no home here.” The statement is repeated in several languages, including Urdu, Arabic, Spanish, and Hebrew.
My Muslim friend said it best: “My family and I felt it was so nice of our Jewish neighbors to publicly condemn hate that we stopped by and introduced ourselves earlier this year and decided to share an Iftar platter with them this Ramadan. I feel the picture of our children delivering Iftar to this neighbor is so powerful: Two Muslim children delivering Iftar to Jewish neighbors who have made a poignant, public declaration in support of love and humanity.”
I get excited to think of how different the world could be for all of us and our children if we all acted in this way, focusing on what we all share in common rather than exaggerating the differences. We clearly can learn much from such acts of generosity and kindness.