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The spot for the good news, the good word, the quick reports of the many, many wonderful news items I hear all the time and want to share with the rest of you. Expect to find the good news when you come to check out "what’s the good word?"

Monday, September 12, 2011

Dismantling Barriers to Peace

On Sunday, September 11, 2011, a remarkable panel assembled at First Unitarian Congregation of Toronto. The panelists who met there were as follows.

Buddhist – Gen Kelsang Suma, Barrie Kadampa Centre
Christian – Darren Kropf, Mennonite Central Committee Ontario
Hindu – Bhaktimarga Swami, Hare Krishna Temple, Toronto
Islam – Imam Hamid Slimi, Chairman, Canadian Council of Imams
Jewish – Rabbi Karen Levy, Oraynu Congregation for Humanistic Judaism, Toronto
Unitarian – Rev. Shawn Newton, First Unitarian Congregation of Toronto

First Unitarian Congregation wanted to commemorate the 10th Anniversary of September 11, 2001, not by merely remembering the tragedy of the events which occurred that day, but in a way that might advance the cause of peace. As a result, they asked JW Windland of Encounter World Religions Centre to design and moderate this event. As usual, JW did that with distinction. The objective of the day was eloquently stated by JW in his keynote address; “We hope today to shift the focus for a while from images of tumbling towers to visions of peace.”

Each member of the panel was asked to address two questions.
1. Speaking from your tradition, how is peace understood?
2. What barriers to peace are there in your tradition and how is it actively dismantling these barriers?
Each responded to the questions, to each other, and to questions from the audience in an open, thoughtful and peaceful way.

I will not here attempt to summarize the comments of the six distinguished speakers, however I can tell you that it was quite clear that there was general consensus of thought. The idea behind that consensus was first suggested by JW Windland when he stated that the enemy is not each other, the persons within other nations or the ideas of other faith movements. The enemy is absolutism. The barriers to peace arise from absolutism, dogmatism, intolerance, rigidity, arrogance and ignorance within any faith. When we look at the thoughts or ideas of others as being inferior to our own, we have already taken a step away from peace.

The importance or success of this day cannot be measured in the eloquent words or phrases that were spoken, however. The success of the day is measured in the fact that representatives of six world religions were willing to come together, without fanfare, without flashbulbs and cameras, without the news media even being invited, just to talk to each other. The spirit of love and generosity was apparent in the voice of each speaker, and the barriers slowly melted as we shifted our focus from those “images of tumbling towers to visions of peace." We need more of this.

Posted by Carman

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