We Form Each Other

Rida Zaidi (She/Her/Hers) is a graduate from DePaul University that majored in Political Science with a minor in Public Policy. Rida is from Chicago, IL, born and raised in Rogers Park. Throughout her career, she has been involved in community organizing and policy work, interning at organizations like City of Chicago Law Department, Communities United, and the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless. She currently works at the law firm - Neal, Gerber & Eisenberg.  

Dancing has always been at the forefront of my life- through cultural weddings, school performances, and freestyling.  

One highlight of my high school career was when my dance team was selected for the Illinois State Competition. We were the only ones from the whole city of Chicago. The original piece we performed was a compilation of each member's ideas including pivot turns, dance lifts, and ballet pliés. Performing this piece was pure bliss. I was invigorated by all the smiles on our team and the audience, and proud of all our hard work.  

The final product was beautiful, but combining the dance team’s different visions wasn’t easy. At first, everyone wanted to lead, and we kept getting tangled in each other’s ideas. Luckily, our dance teacher stepped in and split us into teams where each one was responsible for a different part of the dance. Each team contributed to the bigger picture, rather than demanding that their idea was the “better idea.” This experience exemplified how both dancing and interfaith tie into one’s individual responsibility and collective mindset. As people, we are responsible for our opinions and to what power we hold them to. Having a collective mindset isn’t about conforming your beliefs with people around you, but rather, using our judgment and knowledge to coexist.  

I attended Mather High School, the most diverse school in Chicago. It was easy to be surrounded by people who spoke a different language than me and people who came from diverse backgrounds. Amongst my group of friends, we spoke 5 different languages and practiced 3 different religions. What I didn’t know is that I had been doing interfaith work throughout high school without even knowing it. Along with my friends of various worldviews, we were volunteering, leading advocacy events for minimum wage, having conversations about homelessness with our State Representatives, and so on.  

It was not until my first year at DePaul when I was introduced to the term interfaith. I began to take in my experiences with other students to realize that interfaith is everywhere. Although it does include religion and faith, it is not limited to just that. Interfaith is about coexisting and building mutual relationships amongst people in diverse communities. We must grow, cooperate, and understand one another!  

This past month, I began reading a book called, “Think Again,” by Adam Grant which gives a framework on how to “unlearn,” and how we can rethink individually, mutually, and collectively. Putting it in the context of interfaith, it is sometimes challenging to rethink our own lens when we have held our viewpoints for quite some time. We must dismantle binary bias, which Grant describes as, “Our tendency to seek clarity and closure by simplifying complex ideas and situations into two categories.” When thinking about an issue, we immediately place ourselves on one side of the fence, hence there only being “one truth.” Realistically, we have more options than just being right or wrong. In order to build bridges, we must see how other people develop their beliefs and where it comes from. “A good debate is not a war….It’s more like a dance that hasn’t been choreographed, negotiated with a partner who has a different set of steps in mind... If you can adapt your moves to hers, and get her to do the same, you’re more likely to end up in rhythm.”  

In both my work as an interfaith leader and a dancer, rethinking is all about opening our minds, asking questions, and having conversations. When I have collaborated with other dancers to create a piece, we might not always see eye to eye, but there is a way to create peace amongst one another- by being willing to learn, being open to feedback, and finding ways to combine your ideas for the greater good. The same freeness that you feel when you are letting loose prancing, a similar feeling arises when you can talk it out. 

If you are looking for a way to become an interfaith leader, work for racial equity and build bridges, please check out our free curriculum "We Are Each Other's" and start your interfaith leadership today

more from IFYC

"99.8% of U.S. deaths are of the unvaccinated. If you heard of an airline of that percentage dying, whereas a 0.02% on another, you’re switching flights." -- Dr. Jimmie Smith, Macon-Bibb County Health Department, Georgia.
As a scholar of religious studies, I frequently use critical race theory as a tool to better understand how religion operates in American society.
Inspired by their faith, four LDS students built new study resource that has revolutionized how hundreds of thousands of aspiring physicians study for their exams. "It really started because we just wanted to help people," one said.
We're now in one of the holiest seasons of the year for one of smallest and oldest religions in India -- one with a long history in the United States.
Organizing on-campus vaccination clinics, calling thousands of students, hosting informational webinars with medical experts – these are some of the ways in which IFYC’s Faith in the Vaccine Ambassadors (FIVA) have been raising awareness around the COVID-19 vaccine on campuses and high-need communities across the nation.
Last year's winners, listed below, created a range of initiatives, from virtual retreats and criminal justice initiatives to book clubs and racial equity workshops.
Religious objections, once used sparingly around the country to get exempted from various required vaccines, are becoming a much more widely used loophole against the COVID-19 shot.
What will the campus chapel, and the chaplaincy, look like more than a century from now? Let the adventure begin.
The issue is not the presence of religion in the public square. Instead, the question before us is how to express those religious commitments within in a pluralistic society.
We don’t know what the year 5782 – as it is in the Hebrew calendar – has in store for any of us. But we have the power to act in a way to do right by each other and bring a little more peace and love and joy into this profoundly broken world.
The following interview features Dr. Toby Bressler, senior director of nursing for oncology and clinical quality at the Mount Sinai Health System and vice president of the Orthodox Jewish Nurses Association.
Part of what I found so beautiful about our conversation is that we both agree that American pluralism is not simply a pragmatic solution to the challenge of a diverse democracy, it is also a kind of sacred trust that God intends us to steward.
After 9/11, there was increased intentionality in widening interfaith relations to include a broader number of faith groups and discussions. Twenty years later, it is not unusual to see interreligious conferences, joint advocacy efforts and disaster relief teamwork involving faith groups ranging from Adventists to Zoroastrians.
Twenty years later, we at IFYC, like so many others, collect the shards of memory, recollecting, reconstituting the trauma and horror of that day. And the sacredness is in doing so together.
As we approach this significant anniversary of 9/11, we must work to infuse the day with purpose and pluralism. Pay it Forward 9/11 is bringing people together to do 20,000 good deeds for the 20th anniversary.
In the first month since 9/11, The Sikh Coalition documented over 300 cases of violence and religious discrimination against Sikhs in the U.S. and has since grown to become the largest Sikh advocacy and civil rights organization in the country.
“If you were to quiz these students on what happened on 9/11, they think they knew what happened, but nobody really explained it to them,” Lisa Doi said. “I had to think through, how do you teach this history to somebody who doesn’t really remember it?”
My prayer is that for as long as we remember 9/11, that we will take time to listen to the stories of loss that break our hearts, and join together in finding ways to heal the division, violence and hate that continue to tear apart our world.
It has been 20 years, but the pain of that day is still present in so many places.
20 years after the 9/11 attacks, four remarkable people took profound suffering, loss and grief and “somehow managed to not center enemies. What can we learn from that? How can that be a teaching to the culture?”
Now the entire planet is our garden, and Rosh Hashana is our chance to remember that we are all descended from the original gardeners — that we are here, each of one us, to tend our chosen plots as best we can.

The opinions contained in this piece are solely the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of Interfaith Youth Core. Interfaith America encourages a wide range of views and strives to maintain a respectful tone with a goal of greater understanding and cooperation between people of different faiths, worldviews, and traditions.