You know that game where you put together the name of your first pet and the name of the street on which you first lived and get your supposed stripper name? I got two words for you: Princess Hancock. I spent the first nine years of my life with my cat in a town called Buena Park on Hancock Street.

I've been remembering my old across-the-street neighbors, the Allens, who spent a good chunk of their lives trying to convert us. I will never forget the horrible teenage girl, Barbara, bully of the first degree. She spent many a carpool pinching me. Which just goes to show: If you want to convert someone, don't pinch.

It seems self-explanatory, until you really listen to some of the talking heads on TV and elsewhere. Muslims are evil! Anyone who believes in more than one God is a freak! Christians are infidels and must be eradicated — the Qu'ran says so!

Wrong. All wrong. Why can't we just accept the world's multiplicity, and agree that no one knows the exact nature of the Divine? Any God who is a loving God would never condone forced conversion. And any God who is not a loving God ought to be reconsidered. Take that, Barbara Allen.

One World

Enable us to actually meet each other
before we think we know someone.
Remind us that nobody fits
neatly into a box on a census form.
We all came from somewhere
and nobody owns the Earth.

We're all sub-letting here, till our time is up,
so grant us camaraderie and kinship.
Not tolerance.  
Not just putting up with each other,
but openness and a world-wide welcome mat.

Allow us to share this space,
and consider every living thing
our next-door neighbors.



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