Do you remember when President Ronald Reagan gave a speech, I believe to the United Nations, and asked the gathering of people this question: suppose there was an alien invasion? Wouldn’t such an experience unite us all as one people? I’ve seen that speech several times in different contexts on TV, YouTube, and in other ways. The President was trying to unite all the nations of the world, having them feel a connection with each other via an imagined scenario.
I remember reading in the Chicago Tribune about a Polish couple in Poland who were anti- Semitic. Then they researched their ancestry and learned that they, themselves, were Jewish. So, they learned that they belonged precisely to the people they hated. I’m sure that brought about some serious reflections on their part.
And it happened to me! I got involved with Ancestry.com and volunteered my own saliva. I got two reports back. The bottom line is that I am very Russian for one thing, a result that I admit did surprise me. There is Polish in me for sure, but I am mostly a Slavic mutt, with Polish, Czech, Slavic, Lithuanian all mixed together – and to a large percentage, I am also very Russian.
I’m not finished, however, as there is one more element to these findings. As with the Polish couple above, I too have Jewish ancestry. Now, I decided to mention these findings in this Pastor page as many Jewish people were recently murdered by someone with exceptional hate for Jewish people. Of course, everyone remembers the Holocaust during World War II when millions of Jews were killed. Over the centuries, in fact, Jews were routinely killed. What is different now is that my recent discovery causes me to view all these experiences differently.
Before, all these killings were against “those” people. Now, it’s “my” people as I have learned how connected I am to them. Back to the comment of President Reagan! Suppose you woke up one day and learned something that made you feel connected to everyone in the world? Suppose that experience in turn was felt by everyone in the world simultaneously? Wouldn’t there be peace in the world now?
This experience is what Jesus wanted us to feel. He wanted us to recognize that we are all brothers and sisters. We’re family. For this reason, we need to know, or must know, that we are all connected to each other. Unable perhaps to feel such a reality right away, there are possible experiences that we can have to help us along. Like spitting in a test tube and learn that I am also a member of a people that could conceivably get me killed, just because my ancestry is connected to them.
So, I am left with reading the recent news report of Jewish people killed in a synagogue. Feeling somewhat hollow, yet sad. And I cannot help but wonder how it would be, if we all woke up one day and realized that we were all family? I wonder more, why that day cannot be now!
Peace, Fr. Walter