Chaucer’s Wife of Bath may seem an unlikely source of wisdom when considering the appalling mass murder in Orlando. However, we might do well to recall the words on the necklace she wore so proudly among the medieval pilgrims – AMOR VINCIT OMNIA, Love Conquers All.
At a time when there are so many acts and words of hatred that would split us apart along the grounds of race, religion or sexual orientation, the wisdom inscribed on her talismanic necklace reminds us of the core spiritual truth.
We cannot let a man drive us apart who may well have been deeply conflicted about his own sexuality, and who had succumbed to radicalization by online Jihadi sites. The fact that he found a convenient rationale for his hatred in the perverted gospel of the so-called Islamic State cannot be permitted to undermine the religious tolerance on which the United States is based. As those who have studied Islam know, the greater Jihad is actually the struggle within ourselves to overcome our own darkness, egotism and ignorance.
Even though it is likely that other attacks will come on soft targets like the Bataclan in Paris and Pulse in Orlando, we do the terrorists’ job for them if we demonize a whole religion and set the world on the path of long-term, disastrous war. This is a time to embrace our Muslim colleagues and friends, to give thanks for the amazing progress made in gay rights over recent years, and to celebrate freedom and love as the two most essential components of a fulfilling life and an enlightened society.
The Open Center has been, and always will be, committed to these values. We know that the vast majority of our members and attendees feel the same way. We place our faith in the mystical unity of the world’s spiritual paths, and in the right of each individual to live and love however they see fit. In this way, the dark fantasies of fundamentalist religion, with its grotesque apocalyptic worldview and censorious attitude to minorities, will gradually slip into the mists and shadows of history, which is where these forms of ignorance belong. And the truth will ring down the centuries from the medieval world of Rumi and the Canterbury Pilgrims on into the future – Love Conquers All.