Archive for the ‘faith traditions’ tag
by Yonatan Neril
from The Huffington Post
The Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison tells the following story: A young girl with a bird in her hands went to a wise person. The child asked the wise person, “Is the bird in my hands alive or dead?” If the answer was “dead,” she would open her hands. If the answer was “alive,” she would close her hand and kill the bird. The wise person, sensing her intention, responded, “I cannot say whether the bird is alive or dead, but I can say that the fate of the bird is in your hands.”
Today we have in our hands not one bird, and not just all birds, but all living beings on our planet, including 7 billion human beings.
I grew up on an acre of land in California with a large orchard and organic garden. In my BA and MA studies with a focus on global environmental issues, I conducted research in India on renewable energy and in Mexico on genetically modified corn. I came to see first-hand global environmental changes that humanity is effecting on this planet. Following these studies and research, I studied for a number of years in a rabbinic program. Because of my environmental background, I encountered traditional Jewish texts from a particular lens, and realized that my own tradition offers profound teachings that relate to environmental sustainability. I also came to realize that other faith traditions — Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism and others — also speak deeply about the roots of and solutions to our environmental challenges. Based on this understanding, I founded The Interfaith Center for Sustainable Development to access the collective wisdom of the world’s religions to promote co-existence and environmental sustainability through education and action.
Those who seek to cause religious conflict are small in number but highly motivated, organized and funded. While there are billions of people who are engaged in their own faith tradition, many have not yet learned how to live or work together well with those of different traditions.
The Tony Blair Faith Foundation decided to tackle this challenge through organising a year-long Fellowship that brought together young people of different faiths to work toward better interfaith action. The Foundation selected 33 outstanding future leaders, who between July 2011 and June 2012, worked in interfaith pairs around the world. They built understanding between different religious communities by mobilising them around the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), in particular around malaria prevention.
The Fellows represented a diverse cross section of the faith traditions: 11 were Christian, 10 Muslim, 5 Jewish, 3 Hindu, 2 Buddhist, 1 Baha’i, 1 Sikh and 1 Quaker. Thirty of the Fellows were placed in multi-faith pairs in Canada, India, the United Kingdom and the USA.
With representatives from every faith tradition from all around the world and over five hundred programs, performances, panel discussions and more, the Parliament of Religions is already an extraordinary educational opportunity. We are also happy to announce a whole day of special sessions created specifically for students and teachers in Australia.
On Monday, Dec. 7th, the Parliament is proud to present nine sessions with a special emphasis for youth and educators. Programs such as “Religion and Belief in Public Schools” and “The Centrality of Spirituality in Australian Indigenous Education” are sure to provide students with an unforgettable experience and plenty of food for thought.
Teachers interested in bringing students to this day of educational sessions may qualify for special low rates. To learn more about the Monday program and the opportunities it provides, click here.
The Parliament of Religions is an intentionally international event. Including Melbourne 2009, the event will have been hosted on four continents, and the Parliament brings together religious adherents from dozens of different faith traditions. It makes sense that our registrants would be equally diverse.
The registration analysis isn’t complete, but we have already confirmed attendance from over sixty different nations. From Malaysia to Canada, from Zimbabwe to Iran, from Nepal to Guatemala and of course Australia, the Parliament has found its way across the breadth and width of the world. This is seen in a variety of programming, from our many Pre-Parliament Events to the Partner Cities Network.
As our registration increases, the world grows closer and closer.
The world will come together in Melbourne this December.
We hope to see you there!