Today Tulsi Gabbard hit a home run.

When someone tried to interrupt her speech she simply said “there will be time for questions at the end”, showing true respect and aloha.

Tulsi Gabbard Calls for Peace, Unity, Religious Freedom at Rutgers’ Muslims for Peace Event

Photo by Ray Alt

Her message was as personal as it was inclusive, first she used facts to describe the increase in religious related hate crimes since the beginning of 2017 and then stated:

The perpetrators of these horrific actions have no connection with the spiritual love that lies at the heart of all religions — the love that has the power to overcome differences and bring people together. — Tulsi Gabbard

Regardless of the base of the religion, all religions have some form of the golden rule and love for God.

No matter where you’re from, no matter what religion you practice, your ethnicity, race, or anything else — what is it that can bring us together as people? It is, what we call in Hawaii, aloha… sincere, deep love and respect for other people as children of God. — Tulsi Gabbard

Aloha is a way of life, it is more than a word of greeting or farewell or a salutation. “Aloha” means mutual regard and affection and extends warmth in caring with no obligation in return. “Aloha” is the essence of relationships in which each person is important to every other person for collective existence:
A - "Akahai", meaning kindness to be expressed with tenderness;
L- "Lōkahi", meaning unity, to be expressed with harmony;
O - "ʻOluʻolu" meaning agreeable, to be expressed with pleasantness;
H - "Haʻahaʻa", meaning humility, to be expressed with modesty;
A - "Ahonui", meaning patience, to be expressed with perseverance.

Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur
“When a person thinks, I am a Christian, this other person is a Muslim, therefore he is my enemy, or I am a Muslim, this other person is a Hindu, therefore she is my enemy, they reveal their own lack of spiritual depth. No religion teaches this, and any understanding of any religion that adopts this divisive attitude proves itself false by doing so. “
— Srila Bhaktivinode Thakur

Lack of spiritual depth, describes much of the religious extremism of today, often the religious will go though the motions of celebrating God without understanding the true love of/by God.

Then she got personal:

As a Vaishnava Hindu, a devotee of Sri Krishna, I recognize and respect both Jesus Christ and the Prophet Mohammed as messengers of God, messengers of love, peace, and universal brotherhood. — Tulsi Gabbard

She compared this message to one of the Prophet Muhammad’s:

“Beware! Whoever is cruel and hard on a non-Muslim minority, or curtails their rights, or burdens them with more than they can bear, or takes anything from them against their free will; I (Prophet Muhammad) will complain against the person on the Day of Judgment.” (Abu Dawud)

She went on to cite the Sri Siksastakam, Quran, Bible which repeat the the same theme that God is love and the freedom to believe and the freedom to love, and free will is given by God.

It is truly wonderful that embedded in the very bedrock of our nation is this recognition of free will; of this intrinsic right of every individual to worship God as one chooses, or to not worship God; to adhere to any spiritual path or to no spiritual path. No one can make that decision for another person. It is our duty to guard and protect the right of all people to worship or not worship according to their conscience. This is the nature of love. Every person has the freedom to choose to give their heart and give their life to God or not. You can’t force someone to love God, or to love anyone. — Tulsi Gabbard

“To adhere to any spiritual path or to no spiritual path.” so that includes atheists and agnostics. “You can’t force someone to love God, or to love anyone.” very well said.

The terror that we see perpetrated in the name of God today is in fact a refusal to honor the inherent freedom of all people that is given by God. So-called “religious terrorism” is born of an exclusivist ideology that says, my faith is the only legitimate faith, and that everyone who does not believe as I believe is inferior and must be converted, enslaved, raped, or killed. — Tulsi Gabbard

She then goes on to say we need to defeat our common enemy ISIS’ ideologically as well as well as on the battlefield.

Ultimately, the only way we can defeat terrorism is by wielding a superior truth. To defeat terrorism, every imam, priest, reverend, rabbi, guru, and spiritual teacher must articulate this central truth — that real religion is love, and love must be freely given, it cannot be forced. A loving relationship with God can only be initiated out of an individual’s free choice. When this truth is heard, understood, and accepted in all corners of the globe, then we will have peace. — Tulsi Gabbard

By definition, true love must be freely given and it must be the individual who decides.

Tulsi finished by saying:

“So the challenge for each and every one of us here is — will we elevate and empower these champions of peace and a pluralistic society? Will we do what is necessary to defeat the destructive exclusivist ideology with one of love, aloha, and inclusiveness?
Or will we stand by, shake our heads, and do nothing?
We must act. For the sake of our families, our communities, our country, and all of humanity, we must stand with these brave souls, these warriors for peace.
Let us stand proudly as Americans, as defenders of our constitution, as defenders of freedom, as defenders of peace, as beacons of love.
Let us be brave and forceful in standing up for each other’s rights to live and worship freely and let us not be afraid to say that whoever threatens that right for any one of us will have to face all of us together.
Let us be inspired by the vision put forward by our nation’s founders, and challenge those fomenting religious bigotry to do the same.
Rather than pour fuel on the fire of darkness, divisiveness, and hatred, let us bring the light found in the aloha spirit to our lives, our country, and the world.
Let us be inspired as we join hands, working toward the day when everyone — whether they are Hindu, Buddhist, Christian, Jew, Muslim, or atheist — can live in peace and free from fear.
Let us confront hatred with love. Confront bigotry with aloha. Confront fear with courage.
Let us truly live aloha in our actions, in our words, and in our hearts.”

I encourage you to watch the video and read the full transcript of this amazing speech by a true believer of peace.

If you found this story interesting or useful, consider tipping a dollar or a beverage of your choice. Mahalo! Scott

Scott is a publisher and an activist and facilitator in several Facebook groups including Run Tulsi Run, #DemEnter, We Stand With Tulsi and Tulsi Stands With Us.