The Lord’s Prayer

The Lord’s Prayer

When one person dies anywhere in the world, we all die.

The highly publicized tragic assassination of Bhutto in Pakistan diverts us from the everyday assassinations we condone, permit, allow and even promote right here in our own country. While the dangers confronting that region of the world cannot be understated, we must remember that the society we conform to, the government we submit to, the laws we consent to, and the actions we condone form the body of our spirituality here at home. Bhutto’s death underscores the mindlessness with which we approach our congregation. People professing to follow their conscience, their internal God, are capable of ignoring their knowledge of right and wrong and performing acts of perfidy, all “excused” by their faith.

If we look anywhere around us — the roads we travel, the places we live, the poisoning of our environment, the medications we use, the military adventures our government takes us to, just to name a few — we see hundreds of thousands of people dying and suffering needlessly right here in our own country — every year. With blinders on we focus on particular tragedies that offend us while we excuse or ignore much larger dangers consume our human resources. 

Fundamentalists are criticized for “believing” in the literal words of the bible and their prayers. In truth, it doesn’t matter and doesn’t affect you whether they view the spiritual realm the way way you do, nor does it matter to their lives whether you follow the same code of rituals and beliefs. The truth is that what matters is how you live your life. If you and your children practice tolerance, love of your neighbor, and reaching out to those in need; if you and your spouse practice mutual respect, partnership and civility to one another and model that for your children; if you appreciate the humanity, goodness and frailties in yourself and those you meet in the marketplace — then your spiritual beliefs are meaningful. If you don’t, then your spiritual beliefs are words and not action, and your actions result in tragic consequences to yourself, your family, your society and the world around you.

When we say “The Lord is my shepherd,” we submit to a higher authority than ourselves. This is a higher authority than any human including your pastor, rabbi, preacher, priest or guru. It puts you in direct personal relationship with humility and the importance of true integrity in your thoughts, speech and actions. It is an acknowledgment that all I do is within the context of forces of nature, of G-d, including human nature, that form the challenges and opportunities of living a life of meaning. 

When we say “I shall not want,” it would be useful to think of this as knowing that as long as I behave, think, speak, and offer myself to others in constructive ways, my contribution to my society is reward enough. The “new age” doctrine that there is some sort of quid pro quo — that a good deed will come back to you, even multiplied — misses the point that the deed itself is reward enough. Doing good things for others brings me to a state of “grace” where I am at peace with myself, my G-d, and my society. Try it, you’ll like it. 

In the end of our lives, while we are still lucid and filled with memories, surrounded we hope by loving family and friends, we test ourselves, our regrets, our pride, and our lives with one thing — a smile.


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