Honor other religions like you do your own
- 10 Posts
- Age 17
On June 14, 2017, some of the most eminent religious leaders have released a joint statement, calling on humanity to engage in interfaith dialogue in the face of today’s division. “It’s not complicated”, says Archbishop Justin Welby, “start with sharing what we all share, which is the pleasure of conversation”. Through the “Make Friends” initiative, prominent exponents of various religions invite us all to set any source of division aside and simply make friends with people that might not share our creed, but can nonetheless enrich us. After all, friendship is never racially or religiously selective, whether we enjoy someone’s company depends solely on the bond we have with that person. For this reason, friendship is the solution to the mistrust of today’s society, which is fueling deleterious hatred and disdain. We need to ward off division before it completely hinders the prospect of durable peace and we will find that by replacing division with unity we succeed in eradicating any discrimination.
The “Make Friends” project was organized by the Elijah Interfaith Institute, which aims to foster peace through the power of religion. Rabbi Dr. Alon Goshen-Gottstein, the Institute’s director, acknowledges the challenges of building bridges between faiths: “we cannot deny that in the books of many religions you can find texts that are not very open, even hostile, to people of other faiths”. However,“ when the world’s most important leaders call for friendship, they are (…) affirming a particular way of practicing religion.” Faith doesn’t have to divide men; if its purpose is to guide us away from evil so that we may live in harmony, then why not see in religion what it represents: a beacon of peace. A total of 22 leaders representing Sikhism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, and Christianity have expressed their belief in interfaith dialogue in a video statement which can be viewed on the “Make Friends” Youtube channel.
Coming together, despite all prejudices, “starts a process (…) where hope is born” says Archbishop Antje Jackelén, it allows us to “recognize the beauty of God in every human being”, as the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I stated. Grand Mufti Shawki Allam suggests that we do not “focus on differences between religious groups” and so does Bhai Sahib Mohinder Singh saying that “no matter which side of the mountain you’re climbing, we should be helping each other” since we are all trying to reach the same summit. “To get together and know one another”: this way, according to Ayatollah Sayyid Hassan Al-Qazwini, we can fully understand each other by “exploring commonalities”. And finally, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar gives us a remarkable advice, that is to “honor other religions like we do our own”, a simple yet powerful principle of peaceful coexistence.