Saturday evening I officiated Shana and Arash's Bahai-Jewish wedding at Villa Amor in beautiful Sayulita, Mexico. Since Shana and Arash are both of Persian descent, I blessed them with the Priestly Blessing in Farsi, which was a first for me. Here are the remarks I shared with them and their guests:
Almost every religion has one version or another of the Golden Rule, “Do unto others, as you would want done to you.” What we sometimes forget is that often that rule has been understood and is unfortunately by many people still understood to kind of have a little asterisk next to it. The asterisk says, “Do unto others, as you would want done to you, except for fill in the blank,” or “Do unto other, as you would want done to you, but only if they are part of our group/tribe/religion etc.” In this sense the Bahai faith is instructive. An important Bahai scripture addresses this very issue:
Should a person of whatever faith or nation, of whatever color, appearance, character or condition, be disposed to associate with you, ye should show forth kindness and treat him as a brother… (This) hath ever been and will continue to be true. It is not permissible to contend with anyone, nor is it acceptable… to ill-treat or oppress any soul. The fundamental purpose animating the faith… is to safeguard the interests and promote the unity of the human race, and to foster the spirit of love and fellowship amongst men. Suffer it not to become a source of dissension and discord, of hate and enmity.
The task of all people in the modern era is indeed to understand that there is no room for exclusions, no place for ifs, buts or maybes in the realm of the Golden Rule. Through such a universal practice of the Golden Rule, and only when practiced in such a way, do we ourselves become better people.
This is how Shana and Arash have personally lived their lives. They have never let anything stand in the way of their practice of the Golden Rule. They did not let the fact that they come from different faiths stand between them. Through their relationship, they have each indeed become better people. Through their relationship, and their acceptance of each other’s differences, they have, in fact, become more connected to their respective heritages.
Shana and Arash, may we all learn from your example. May we all consistently, and without hesitation practice the Golden Rule in the way you do. May the day that all religions hope for, arrive in your lifetimes, when through such practice, the world be at peace.