We enter this holiday season shouldering many burdens. We carry the sorrow of Israel and Gaza, and of Lewiston. Here in Portland, we carry the sorrows of a city facing crises of homelessness and addiction. We carry the sorrows of those who come here seeking refuge and asylum. Even as the holiday lights shine bright along Congress Street, we know that many of our neighbors face an uncertain future.

It’s not surprising that every faith tradition has some form of the Golden Rule – the call to treat our neighbors as we would be treated ourselves. In Hinduism, the Mahabharata teaches that: “This is the sum of duty: do not do to others what would cause pain if done to you.” In Confucianism, we are taught: “Do not impose on others what you yourself do not desire.”

In Islam, the true believer is one who “wishes for his brother what he wishes for himself.” The Buddha taught that “One should seek for others the happiness one desires for oneself.” In Judaism, the Torah goes a step further, saying “you should love your neighbor as yourself.” Centuries later, Jesus echoes those words, drawing on his ancient heritage.

But of all the versions of the Golden Rule, the one that is most challenging and most transformative comes from the Shinto tradition. The great teacher Kurozumi Munetada wrote that, “The heart of the person before you is a mirror. See there your own form.”

Munetada calls us to something beyond the Golden Rule. He asks us to see ourselves in the unhoused person living in an encampment and fearing the arrival of bulldozers. He asks us to see ourselves in the person suffering the devastation of addiction. He asks us to recognize ourselves in refugees facing obstacles of language and bureaucracy.

What might we accomplish if we met Kurozumi’s challenge? How would our thinking – and our actions – shift if we thought of ourselves as one people, in the struggle together, doing all we can for each other, because we find ourselves reflected in every face we see?

During the month of December, multiple faith traditions dovetail to create a single, joyous holiday season: Bodhi Day, Hanukkah, Solstice, Christmas, Kwanzaa. This year, let’s make the Golden Rule the reason for the season as we see ourselves reflected in each other’s faces and work together to heal the world.

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