I heard Eboo Patel’s Ware Lecture two summer ago at the General Assembly of the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations in Louisville KY. I learned something new.
We live at a time when people of different faith backgrounds are interacting more strongly and with greater frequency than ever before. Too many people think of faith as a barrier of division or a bomb of destruction. Instead, Eboo views religious and philosophical traditions as bridges of cooperation. His interfaith movement builds religious pluralism. His organization is named the Interfaith Youth Core.
Usually I think about distinguishing my faith from others, rather than trying to find a common thread. As a Catholic friend of mine says “what we think of as the Ten Commandments are the ten suggestions to you.” However, we both have the commandments in our heritage. Many of us of different faiths have similar thoughts about the importance of service, such as working in food pantries, or being a Big Brother or Big Sister. We may have a common reverence for life and death. We may (or may not) practice meditating or praying.
Eboo spoke of resonances between different faiths. He spoke of his father, a devote Muslim, stopping by an illuminated Catholic statue of the virgin and child on their way to prayer.”Why do we stop at this statue?” Eboo asked.”Because I feel a resonance here,” responded his father.
Why is this important to Promise the Children? My answer is that when we have the chance to speak to our children, grandchildren, or the younger generation, we want them to know our religion well. We also want them to be at peace with other religions and to realize the importance of service and the common good. Young people are our future leaders, and while some will choose a destructive path, others will have the capacity to lead us in peace.