In 2016, there will be a United Nations’ conference in Istanbul on Inter-religious dialogue. In preparation for this there was a symposium held in Geneva at the United Nations. In this symposium Religions together for Humanitarian Action”, it was asked whether Religion is a source of conflict or can it play the role to create peace? I believe religion is a tool of both; it can be used for good as well as evil. However in order to utilize religion for peace we have to reform our religious education. 85% of the world population affiliate themselves with a particular religion. Therefore what is preached from our churches, mosques or temples are crucial for tomorrow’s peace. When clergies are trained to think and act holistic and be more dialogue oriented, they will contribute to peace building of tomorrow. The following are the recommendation I offered:
1.Let us identify and recognize bridge-builders. In every religious group there are people, men and women of influence who are opening their doors and arms to the other religious groups. They are looking for dialogue and fellowship. Such people should be identified and recognized.
2.Various platforms and tools should be given to such bridge-builders to share their stories and influence others by their message.
3.Identify and address the common grounds in our spiritual and theological doctrines between different religions.
4.Identify and address the common pain and suffering of humanity and allow the bridge builders to address such matters following by action.
5.After trust is build among the religious groups that are involved, identify and address the differences and misunderstanding between religions.
6.Develop curricula and educational programs build upon the recommendations and advise of such bridge builders.
7.What are the moral and ethical boundaries for freedom of opinion and expression of ideas? Does ridiculing, humiliating other belief systems and religions in de media part of freedom of expression of one’s ideas? I would recommend a UN Declaration that condemns such acts.
I am convinced that such steps will help religious people/organizations develop better understanding of each other together and contribute to a better world. As long as we live together here on earth, we have to share everything, we have to live together in harmony and love, otherwise hate and violence will take over this world in much higher extend than we even experience today.