United We Stand

February 14, 2011 at 9:26 pm

Last year, the UN General Assembly unanimously passed a resolution declaring the first week of every February as the "World Interfaith Harmony Week". The resolution includes everyone in the world - all religions, faiths and beliefs - and non-believers. "This is an opportunity to focus global attention on the efforts of religious leaders, interfaith movements and individuals around the world to promote mutual respect and understanding between followers of different faith and beliefs", UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said. The resolution mentions "love of God and love of one's neighbour or love of good and of one's neighbour". This is the very essence of the goodwill for all.

There is an imperative need for dialogue among different faiths and religions in enhancing mutual understanding, harmony and cooperation among people. The moral imperatives of all religions, convictions and beliefs call for peace, tolerance and mutual understanding. All countries of the world must support this initiative voluntarily.

India could play a leading role in such a movement. India is a live example of the concept of interfaith coexistence with people of so many different religions, cultures and faiths living together for hundreds of years. Despite the theological differences between so many religions, the challenge for people living in diverse and plural societies like India is to acknowledge these differences without losing respect for one another and reach across the divide to work together for common goals, such as compassion, justice and peace. Faith is much more than religion. It is a positive and an optimistic energy. All individuals must resist forces of division that spread misunderstanding and mistrust especially among peoples of different religions.

We hail from the country of Mahatma Gandhi who encouraged people to come together for the good of the community and history beholds that when people of different faiths work together on areas of common concern things get done easily and mutual respect and understanding among people grows in the process.

Obviously, resolutions do not by themselves alter the world, but definitely encourages people who believe in inter-religious harmony to stand up united for it. Many religious leaders worldwide and in India have appreciated it. But we as individuals can also make efforts towards interfaith harmony. The real work of love of neighbour starts in local communities. It plays the most crucial role to spreads waves of goodness all around. In wake of the same, we can do simple things like simply passing a smile to a person belonging to a different faith or doing certain activities like walking, reading or having a cup of tea or coffee together. Even a talk in favour of harmonious relationships among all people irrespective of their religion or faith will definitely have a ripple effect of goodness that will have unforeseen positive consequences in the future in an ever-widening circle of goodness. Speech is our strongest weapon against all ill deeds and the best instrument to mobilize optimistic thoughts among our fraternity. Dialogue will bring us mutual enrichment and help us overcome prejudices which we have built over the years for one reason or the other.

Even if the world moves in the opposite direction, a little effort for interfaith harmony is not like a vote for a losing candidate. Your vote still counts. The efforts and dialogues related to interfaith harmony must not be restricted to the "harmony week" only but should influence our activities right through the year. We must never give up by saying that nothing will happen and make it an excuse for making no effort towards it. Even if we think in a way that is self centered, still harmonious relations will only help in each individual's self development and not hamper it in any way. If, as an individual, we show compassion, tolerance, understanding and harmony among each other; then we can say that God has made no mistake in making us human beings and we surely are his best creation.

Source: Indian Matters!


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