Part of my philosophical search for truth pushes me to attempt to understand the nature of love. The intensity of that search comes from the love I’ve experienced in sincere and devotional relationships. These personal and individual relationships are the glue that binds members of Interfaith Youth Core and interfaith advocates worldwide. Along the lines of Martin Buber, the world must realize the detriment of the I-It relationship and strive for the I-Thou relationship.
Hindu mystics teach that we have the capacity of choice, in which we can view each person, regardless of religious or nonreligious background, as a living being of humanity. We all have unique oxygen. The question is whether we decide to breathe together or separately.
After attending the IFYC’s Leadership Institute in Chicago this past June, I realized, as Eboo Patel puts it, that the faith-line is the challenge of the 21st century. But can’t it be the solution? The four-day convention taught me that, by focusing on shared values via storytelling, we can learn to breathe together. The faith-line does not separate, but rather, it unites. Although it accepts difference, the interfaith movement does not place emphasis on what divides us. Instead, this movement places the emphasis on similarities. The outcome can only be inclusive cooperation among the religious and nonreligious alike.
Studies in psychoanalysis tell us that man is on a constant journey. Through our struggles, we gain the capacity to understand that we are not competing with one another, but we are surviving with one another. This consciousness leads us to mutual understanding, acceptance, and ultimately, respect. Thinking along these lines, we see that we are not nouns but verbs; we, as human beings, are always in a process of change and development. There is continual growth, and like anything that grows, there is nurturing. My experience with IFYC and the Leadership Institute has taught me that, regardless of wherever our origin may be, we come from the same source. We celebrate together, we mourn together, we laugh together, and we cry together. Perhaps a more suitable title for this blog would be, “Aren’t We Better Together?”
Throughout those four days, I heard the stories of others and shared my own. Although I have told my story in the past, I am on a perpetual journey that will never allow my story to end. We all have similar experiences, and though our journeys may not always be on the same path, at one point, they all converge; at one point, we all breathe the same oxygen.
So, where does the path lead this seeker of truth? No one can know, yet the readiness is all. In the near future, I will take this passion for promoting religious plurality to Israel, where I will study Jewish, Christian, and Muslim relations. I hope one day that we can peer beyond appearances and meet hate with love. As a result, we will realize that we are all unique, but that we posses the ability to find common ground.
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