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I am not going to liken President Barack Obama's outspokenness for, and demonstration of religious toleration-
Article by WorldNews.com Correspondent Dallas Darling.
mainly by supporting the building of a mosque near Ground Zero and requesting several churches across the United States to not burn and destroy the Qur'an-to that of Persia's Cyrus the Great, but there are some definite similarities.
Recall that Cyrus the Great was a welcomed change to the cruel and overbearing kings of Mesopotamia. In fact, and in a bloodless victory, Babylon overthrew its rulers and opened the gates, welcoming Cyrus as a liberator and not as a conqueror. For good reason, all the inhabitants of Babylon threw palm branches at Cyrus' feet and were jubilant.
Not only did Cyrus enforce discipline among his troops to prevent looting and burning, but he entered Babylon's worship center and kneeled and prayed to the Babylonian god Marduk. Cyrus also compensated the people for years of economic injustices, and allowed thousands of Jews to return to Judah to rebuild their temple that had been destroyed.
Unlike other rulers and conquerors, Cyrus believed in honoring local customs and religions. He also recognized other peoples gods. For the next thirty years, people experienced religious freedoms and toleration under Persian rule. Also, peace, friendship, clemency, and a diverse empire replaced tyranny, brutality, impalement and total war.
President Obama too has been an exemplary leader with regards to religious toleration and respecting others belief systems. As America commemorated Sept. 11, President Obama appealed for people to pursue values of diversity and acceptance. He also warned against sacrificing cherished liberties, hunkering down behind walls of suspicion and mistrust, and defended religious freedom.
Proclaiming that America is not, nor never will be, at war with Islam, President Obama reiterated it was not a religion that attacked the United States, but a group of men which perverts religion. Although he did not mention the Ground Zero mosque controversy, on numerous occasions President Obama has expressed American citizens have the right to worship as they choose, and that an Islamic mosque has as much of a right to be built near Ground Zero as a temple, church or synagogue.
It was unfortunate that when Cyrus died, his son, Cambyses, became a harsh ruler and brutal conqueror. When he marched into Egypt, Cambyses destroyed Egypt's gods and temples. Under such oppression, city-states and regions started to rebel. The Persian Empire began to collapse and break apart. Have previous callous and tortuous American rulers, namely those in the Bush Administration, done the same as Cambyses?
After Cambyses death and years before the Greeks debated about democratic institutions, the Persians held their own debate about democracy. It was Otanes who challenged the brutalities, outrageousness and religious intolerance of Cambyses, even suggesting at one point that there should no longer be a monarch. Otanes instead proposed that the people should rule.
Otanes believed too that in a true democracy, there would be equality before the law, and the power of the elected rulers would be subject to...check...and all of its propositions would be put before the commonality for judgment. In his final sentence, Otanes declared, "I vote therefore that we abolish the monarchy and increase the power of the people; for in the Many lies All."(1)
(Another Persian, Megabyzus, argued against democracy or "power of the Many." He believed there was "nothing stupider, nothing more given to outrage, than a useless mob, and believed strongly in education, sound judgment and intellectualism.(2) If the only thing worse than stupid people are stupid people who do not know they are stupid,(3) then perhaps what is worse than intolerant people are intolerant people who do not know they are intolerant.")
Although President Obama might not have been aware of Otanes' phrase: In the Many lies All, when he said, "We need to make sure that we don't start turning on each other; did he not mean the same thing? If there is unity and peace in the Many lies All, then we should help President Obama in doing everything to remind ourselves that we are one nation under God, and that we may call that god different names but we are one nation."
Truly, in the Many, including religions and faith, lies All.
Dallas Darling - firstname.lastname@example.org
(Dallas Darling is the author of Politics 501: An A-Z Reading on Conscientious Political Thought and Action, Some Nations Above God: 52 Weekly Reflections On Modern-Day Imperialism, Militarism, And Consumerism in the Context of John's Apocalyptic Vision, and The Other Side Of Christianity: Reflections on Faith, Politics, Spirituality, History, and Peace. He is a correspondent for www.worldnews.com. You can read more of Dallas' writings at www.beverlydarling.com and wn.com//dallasdarling.)