Saturday, December 5, 2009

Setting the agenda for cooperation from CPWR blog, PeaceNow

from - Friday, December 4, 2009
(from one of the Parliament blogs: Peace Next - here )

After reading this one from Friday, be sure to read the two earlier ones by
Amjad Mohamed Saleem
The scene was as touching as it was poignant. A Jewish rabbi running across nearly half of the room to embrace his imam friend as they met for the first time in 5 years. Oh the fact I regeretted not having my camera to witness such a kodak moment.

For the first time, I understood the power of the parliament. Here was truly an opportunity to embrace one another and truly forge relationships with each other across the great differences that exist between us. So you had priests and others attending the Friday congregational prayers whilst you had ladies in Hijaab and Imams attending programs presented by Jains and Native Americans. All in this spirit of cooperation

Shri Ravi Shankar in the opening plenary said that we can not negate the other person just because he/she is different to us. We need to be able to embrace and learn from each other. This is perhaps the greatest power of the parliament. Perceptions can be remoulded and stereotypes can be broken.

The film 'New Muslim Cool' can explore how a Latino American musician can convert to Islam and face the numerous personal and societal challenges on this journey or 'Not in God's Name' can show you the journey of the Dalai Lama. All of these stories, equally poignant and relevant and needed to reaffirm that we are on the ame journey, perhaps in different vehicles travelling at different speeds.

Of course, there is an element of cynicism that often goes with events like this. Katherine Marshall eloquently talks about such a cynicism that arises from gatherings of this nature. However in the space of watching that rabbi and that imam embrace each other, there is perhaps the hope that the parliament can move beyond the notion of tolerance to respect, understanding, and friendship.

Of course in doing this, the parliament will have to work towards the tasks of preventing conflict by anticipating it and addressing root causes, negotiating peace, and helping to build peaceful societies in the aftermath of conflict. This means that at some point contentious issues within and between religions will have to be tackled as Anwar Ibrahim eloquently put it in a dinner the other night. We may not agree with points of view that are put across, but we should be able to discuss it in an atmosphere of openness and humility with a view to agree to disagree. This is perhaps the key feature to take across. Whether it is the issue of Israel / Palestine; freedom of religious expression in some parts of the Muslim world; the rights of the traditional native people in Australia / America / Canada that have been eroded or negated with the excuse of democratic plurality (I met a Native American who told me about some of the issues found on the reservations) or what is needed for a greater push towards eradicating poverty and ending world hunger

If the traditional religious interfaith traditions can lead to this spirit of agreement and disagreement,then I think cynics aside, great strides would have been made. Yet much more needs to be done. The people who have come to this parliament will need to carry the message forward to others and more importantly engage new members into this new movement to be part of the change to make the world a better place. Posted by paths2people at 11:03 AM

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