Inspired by the celebration of the differences

By Annelous de Vin
World Parliament of Religions 2015
15 en 19 October, Salt Lake City, UT, USA

The World Parliament of Religions was first held in 1893 in Chicago and is recognized today as the birth of formal inter-religious dialogue worldwide. The Parliament of the World’s Religions was created to cultivate harmony among the world’s religious and spiritual communities and foster their engagement with the world and its guiding institutions in order to achieve a just, peaceful and sustainable world.

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The Parliament of the World’s Religions seeks to promote inter-religious harmony, rather than unity. The problem with seeking unity among religions is the risk of loss of the unique and precious character of each individual religious and spiritual tradition; this understanding is key to its framework. Inter-religious harmony, on the other hand, is an attainable and highly desirable goal. Such an approach respects, and is enriched by, the particularities of each tradition.

In October this year I attended, the World Parliament of Religions 2015 in Salt Lake City, USA.I was amazed at the variety of religions that were represented by the over 9000 other delegates. The Convention Centre was coloured by Hindu’s in monks’ clothes and saris, Buddhist Monks in traditional wear, Catholic priest and nuns, Wicca priestesses in colourful dresses and pointed heads, Muslims’ sisters with head clothes and Native American people with impressive head covering with feathers etc. etc. The spectacle of all these people being different and therefore interesting and inspiring made me realize once again how precious and divers our human nature is. The conference with its 800 plus workshops on all topics that relate to us as human beings proved to be the best example of our diversity, creativity and problem solving capacities as a human race. To me the whole conference was a celebration of differences and diversity.

The conference was opened by a beautiful fire ceremony by the Native American Peoples of the land of Utah. The fire was kept burning during the whole conference. During the Conference all difficult and pressing topics of our human race were discussed with intelligence, creativity and diversity. I attended many interesting and inspiring workshop ranging from explanatory panels on a specific faith tradition to a lecture on climate change to chanting of hymns. I met several people that were passionate about their goals. Kindred spirits looking to connect with each other and me to help make the necessary changes in the world. For example, many people came together in preparation of the UN COOP in Paris to influence the world leaders on Climate Change.

Overall the conference had some very beautiful conclusions, that were spoken about on several occasions:

  • Mother Earth is a sacred and we must all strive to protect Her.
  • All must act, however small, actions are needed now.
  • Faith traditions have access to communities in the whole world, we can preach and pray and in that way inspire people to change their views and attitude
  • Climate Change influences all and everything, it influences topics of poverty and hate and violence. It must have top priority.
  • Climate Change is a behavioural problem connected to awareness, morals and ethics. This is the traditional ground of religion. Therefore, religious leaders should act on behalf of Mother Nature
  • Mother Earth is connected to a woman’s body, the desecrating of one is the desecrating of the other. Balance must be restored.

Never before I hear so many speak of Mother earth and the vital role she plays it our life. I left the conference inspired by all different people and the beauty of their views. But most of all I felt inspired to act. Not to wait but to start on a small scale. To act consciously everyday.

May Peace prevail on Earth!

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