My name is Peggy Price**. My official title is Reverend Doctor Peggy Price.
I am a minister in the Center for Spiritual Living in Seal Beach. We are part of the New Thought Movement, which I won’t go into great detail, but our belief is that we are all one and that we are all connected by this one God that we know by many names and that, in that connection, we have many threads that run through our various religions that are very similar. And at the heart of all of them is love. The love of God, the love for God and that yearning for that connection with God ….
I know about the Hizmet Movement because of the people that are involved with Pacifica Institute. And I know about the Hizmet Movement from having been a guest of theirs on a trip to Turkey in 2005.
So, I know about the Hizmet Movement through the people. What I have learned about the Hizmet Movement through the people is that it is a movement that is dedicated to building bridges of understanding between people of different cultures and different religions, that it is a movement that fosters and encourages dialog so that we can deepen our understanding of one another and find the many ways in which we are similar and connected and appreciate the ways in which we are different.
The other thing that I find about the Hizmet Movement is a real dedication to peaceful coexistence in the world. By that, deeper understanding and knowledge of one another…
The teachings of Fethullah Gulen and his encouragement of tolerance and of nonviolence and of really learning and listening to one another, it is a very powerful teaching. I find that it is a message that I resonate with personally very deeply. And I think many people around the world who are peace builders or peace makers would also resonate with this teaching of the Hizmet Movement.
I think in understanding who Fethullah Gulen is, there was a quote that I was exposed to very early on that I think sums up who he is in the way that he writes. I am sure you are very familiar with this quote, but I am going to read it again, because I think it is so important. He says:
“Be so tolerant that your heart becomes wide like the ocean, become inspired with faith and love for others. Offer a hand to those in trouble and be concerned about everyone. Applaud the good for their goodness, appreciate those who have believing hearts and be kind to them. Approach unbelievers so gently that their envy and hatred melt away. Like a messiah revive people with your breath. Remember that you travel the best road and follow the Prophet, an exalted guide. Be mindful that you have his guidance through the most perfect and expressive revelation. Be fair minded and balanced in your judgment for many people do not enjoy these blessings. Return good for evil, and disregard discourteous treatment. An individual’s character is reflected in his or her behavior. Choose tolerance and be magnanimous toward the ill-mannered.”This is a teacher who really understands the importance of kindness and compassion and grace, forgiveness and building bridges.
To me, this is a teacher of great love and great good. I believe he is a teacher for all people, not only the Islamic people but for people everywhere because his message is one that if we lived this way, we would have a world of peace, and we would have a world that works for everyone.
The people of Pacifica Institute and the people who are followers or students of Fethullah Gulen have a vision. That vision is a vision of really connecting with other people and people who are different from themselves, and they have a deep desire to understand them as well as to be understood. What I also see is that teaches a level of spiritually based citizenship, if there is such a thing, because the practice of reaching out and the practice of kindness and the practice of the generosity that I see in the people of Pacifica Institute is so profoundly impressive and so uniquely important in a world that we live in today. It is almost like a lost art that is being regained by people who express this wonderful openness and generosity toward others.
The other thing that I saw on my trip to Turkey—aside from the incredible hospitality that I felt everywhere I went—was when we visited the schools. We saw what the children in the schools are learning and the emphasis in the schools on Science, on really good social education, on the fact that the children were bilingual and in the some cases trilingual by the time they were in middle school.
What I see is in the way that the people of the Hizmet Movement that I have met practice Islam, I believe they practice it in the way that it is intended to be practiced. That’s to bring about being a better person, bringing up people who have a genuine love of God and a genuine love of those around them.
The first time that I heard the passage from the Quran and I don’t know if I can quote it exactly; “I have made you all of different nations and tribes so that you may learn to know each other.” I think that is what I have seen with the way in which the people of the Hizmet Movement, the people of Pacifica Institute go about sharing who they are with all of us.
I think, in general, whether it is a Hizmet Movement or other Muslim people that I know, the Muslims that I know are so unlike the portrayal of Islam through the uneducated unenlightened media.
A van through Turkey, we also had the opportunity to share a lot about what we believe with each other which I think is really powerful.
The other part of the Hizmet Movement that I think is wonderful is when we are invited to Iftar dinners. We get to sit at a table with our Turkish friends, our Muslim friends but also with our other interfaith friends, and we learn about each other. When we have those gatherings it isn’t only someone from the Hizmet Movement that gets up to speak. It could be a rabbi, it could a priest, and it can be me; I have gotten to do that, too. So, we’ve really had an opportunity to build bonds of friendship, which I think is very powerful.
What I am reminded of is a saying that is one of probably the most famous of Mevlana, Rumi which is “Out there beyond right doing and wrong doing, there is a field. I will meet you there.” And I think the Hizmet Movement is very effective at creating that field, where we meet, and where we are beyond dogma or beyond doctrine, or beyond the differences in our various rituals or spiritual practices. We get to the essence of who we are and we find that connection, and I call that the field. That is where we do that, that field of unified love that we can meet in and partake of.
And the children seem happy and they didn’t seem pressure, they didn’t seem as though they were given too much to do. They seem very excited about their schoolwork and the things they were learning.
The voice of the Hizmet Movement in today’s world is very necessary. It is really needed. The voice of organizations that are concerned with the good of humanity, the good of humankind. And the Hizmet Movement is definitely concerned about that. It is a voice that is concerned with tolerance and the recognition that all people not only all the people of Turkey, but all people, are essentially part of one human family in spite of our many differences. That concern in today’s environment is essential. Those voices must be heard. We have many voices that are loud, strident, angry, that are more focused on wealth, power, domination, if you will, which is indicative of a lack of concern for humanity itself.
If we were able as a body of human beings to have this gentler voice of reason, compassion, and concern rise to a level where it could be felt and heard by those who have somehow been wooed by this power, we would have a much better world. And our voices are needed, they are needed definitely and desperately in our world today. And the voice of the Hizmet Movement, this beautiful story of being so tolerant…
**Profile: Peggy Price is a Minister Emeritus since 2011 at the Seal Beach Center for Spiritual Living. She previously served as a minister at United Centers for Spiritual Living and at the Huntington Beach Church of Religious Science. She is a founding member of Greater Huntington Beach Interfaith Council and Ambassador. In addition, she joined with Spiritual and Religious Alliance for Hope (SARAH) in 2008.
*Produced by Spectra Media exclusively for Irmak TV, Atlas of Thoughts (Fikir Atlasi) connects the scholars, politicians, jurists, religious figures, journalists, and academics reflecting on Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gulen and the Hizmet Movement with the audience. Each episode features a person from a different segment of the society with diverse experiences regarding the Hizmet activities and its volunteers. If you are interested to hear about the Hizmet and Mr. Gulen from these people’s perspectives, do not miss this show!