“It is essential to resist forces of division that spread misunderstanding and mistrust especially among peoples of different religions. The fact is, humanity everywhere is bound together, not only by mutual interests, but by shared commandments to love God and neighbor; to love the good and neighbor.” King Abdullah II of Jordan, 65th United Nations General Assembly
In his remarks, King Abdullah II reminds us that there are universal principles evident in all faiths. World Interfaith Harmony Week, commemorated around the world on the first week of February since 2010, draws on these common foundations as simple starting points in our journey to secure peace and prosperity. Such principles like our interconnectedness to God and each other, and our mandate to love and be compassionate to one another are infinitely powerful, but often forgotten or ignored.
Yet, peace loving citizens throughout history and across the world agree, as UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon has said, “What divides divides us is miniscule compared with what unites us.” And by working together, “we can achieve all our goals of peace, prosperity and physical and spiritual well-being.”
As multi-faceted tensions escalate throughout our ever changing world, faith is often criticized as an instigator of conflict. However, Global Peace Foundation and many organizations that promote interfaith cooperation, believe in the moral imperative of faith leaders to be catalysts for peace and social cohesion. And that unifying values like love bind us to one another, and form a foundation that must be sought out in time of conflict and need.
Interfaith works because it draws us together based on something deeper and broader than ourselves. Our faith traditions teach us how to live together better. Our faiths help us affirm the unseen root of our connection as a family, and remind us that our ties are not temporary or occasional. We learn through our faiths how precious each of us is and together, we are better.
We learn compassion and love, and are inspired to go beyond our personal interests and live for the sake of others. We learn to treasure each other, both what is same and different, and how to build lasting, enriching relationships. Our faiths add to the beauty, depth and uniqueness of our human family and opens opportunities for more beautiful and profound expressions of our spirit. Our faiths teach us that there are endless possibilities for good.
Although World Interfaith Harmony Week is one week in the year, interfaith and the universal principles and our shared values should be celebrated and cultivated every week through the year. Everyday we can deepen our love for God and our neighbor.