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  • Reverend James Squire

Would You Miss Me When I Am Gone?

We have been deluged as a nation by daily mass shootings, political partisanship, threats of climate change, people at our southern border who want to escape poverty and pursue the American dream, and a challenging economy. We exist in silos of political ideology and religious belief frozen by the inability to reach out to others who are different from us. Like the comments of Mayor Kenney recently after yet another mass shooting on the day to celebrate our independence, he wanted to “not be mayor anymore”, so that he could wake up to a world where he doesn’t have to worry about what bad thing will happen that day.

I think that the cure for our problems may rest in an answer to a question that is at the core of humanity. “Would you miss me when I am gone?” The path to the answer to that question is difficult and necessary. However, there is a model out there. It is found on the island african nation of Mauritius, 2000 miles off the coast of southern Africa in the Indian Ocean. There are many comments in the video attached below that will shake you out of despair. It is the comment that a Roman Catholic priest made that stopped me in thought when he said, “If I wake up some morning and the Chinese, the Muslim, the Hindu, and the Franco-Mauritius were gone, I would miss them for they make up my humanity.” All religion comes from the heart. It is about love. We look beyond our differences. This is the prevailing view on Mauritius.

Paul Farmer, physician and advocate of the poor, said that all of our problems stem from seeing others as less than who they are. If that is true then the solution may be seeing others as deserving respect and equality just as we would want to be treated that way as well. This is what the Roman Catholic priest on Mauritius means when he ponders “if I wake up and one of my groups who may be different from me are missing, I do not have all of my humanity.”

It is the motto of our nation. “One out of many.” Our answer lies in respect for the other who is different from me. Notice on Mauritius, there are no extremes. Their conversation is not confrontational but each tries to move closer to the other’s point of view. Who would you miss if they weren’t here? Surely you and I could state many “others” that we wouldn’t miss? For me that would be a longer list than I would want to admit. However, I would have a long list of who I would miss as well? That question is the important one. Both questions point to silos of religious views or anything different from our view, and political partisan identity. I wouldn’t miss the conservative/liberal (you name yours) view if they were gone.

So, what happened on Mauritius that elicited a response from a priest that if any other religious groups left, he would not have his humanity?

To go the heart of Jay Wright’s ideology for success, it is “attitude is everything.” Mauritius has 98% literacy, 100% employment, no race riots, police don’t carry guns, interfaith celebrations of religious holidays, and the longest uninterrupted history of democracy in Africa. When a question is asked, they don’t all give the same answer.

Because of their attitude, they have NO EXTREMES. I wouldn’t have to get rid of white supremacists for they don’t exist there. They recognize the right of everyone to be different. Each day you must give the best of yourself on that island. ALL the Mauritians believe they share the same fate. When they look at another, they see others with their heart.

For those who think that this is impossible to achieve, think again. Mauritius has similar problems to ours. The difference is they wake up each day and say to themselves, “Oh, I didn’t know that ________ is gone? Now I am not as fully human as I wanted to be.” They don’t have a list to respond to the question, “Would you miss me if I am gone?” They would miss “the other.”

Their attitude ironically is found in our nation’s motto, E Pluribus Unum,” one from many. We have forgotten that attitude. We have forgotten it at our peril for attitude is everything.

If we remember it, work toward it, and see it as something that points to the essence of America, then we have a chance of an inclusive society with no people less than someone else. Ironically it was on July 4th, our celebration of our independence, that our Mayor of Philly, reached the end of his rope. He shouldn’t be judged as anything but a leader who takes personally what happens in his city. I am glad that he does take actions in his city personally. He won’t miss the violence.

Taking what happens on their island is something that Mauritians take personally. It seems that attitude is everything. “Would you miss me when I am gone?” Our work is to get to the answer that the Mauritians give. “If you were gone when I woke up, I feel that part of my humanity would be missing.”

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