“No single tradition monopolizes the truth. We must glean the best values of all traditions and work together to remove the tensions between traditions in order to give peace a chance.”
Thich Nhat Hanh, Vietnamese Buddhist Monk and Scholar
I have been reading the works of Thich Nhat Hanh for many years. One of his best works is a book entitled “Living Buddha, Living Christ.” In it he outlines the similarities between Christians and Buddhists and brings hope to the world for peace and enlightenment for all of God’s children. In the quote above he reminds the world of the need for TOLERANCE. These words above would be hard to swallow if your are a literalist, extremistor fundamentalist, where absolutes are crucial. Tell Pat Roberson that “No single tradition monopolizes the truth.” This man of God wrote in his book New World Order, “When I said during my presidential bid that I would only bring Christians and Jews into the government, I hit a firestorm. "What do you mean?" the media challenged me. "You’re not going to bring atheists into the government? How dare you maintain that those who believe in the Judeo-Christian values are better qualified to govern America than Hindus and Muslims?" My simple answer is, "Yes, they are." Indeed, if this world is to be a better place TOLERANCE has to become a real factor in day to day life and in particular, in day to day governance. We need to speak proudly of diversity and we need to do so loudly enough that the voices of intolerance become less significant.
Last night The Faith Club came to Windsor. Ranya Idliby, Suzanne Oliver, Priscilla Warner are three women, who collectively, have become “The Faith Club.” Ranya is a Muslim, Suzanne is a Christian, and Pricilla is a Jew. After 9-11 these women came together, originally to write children’s book, to help their kids better understand differences and diversity in the culture around them. They got more than they bargained for when they found that they had a lot of work to do, to work out their own differences. Their book The Faith Club is a memoir of the journey they made together towards knowing each other better. They have visited over 40 cities across the U.S. and last night made their first visit to Canada.
I was pleased to be at Assumption University’s Freed-Orman Center at the University of Windsor last night to hear these three powerful women of God speak. (You can read about their visit by clicking here) I was pleased that some people from the church could attend and hear these women share their experiences of having to tear down their own prejudices and stereotypes of the other in order to move forward as friends and colleagues.
Powerful indeed, to have such well spoken and educated people of faith say with conviction that we all have stereotypes that need addressing. This was a profound answer to the hate-filled lecture “the Deadly threat of Islam” that was offered by Campbell Baptist earlier this year next door to the same campus. I noted last night that Dr. Donald Mckay, senior pastor was nowhere to be found. This man who labelled Islam as “oppressive” and “vicious” should have been present to hear Ranya Idliby speak so firmly about her faith. She is well versed in the Qur’an and gave us an image if Islam that is not at all oppressive and is in no way vicious. On a positive note the lecture was a full house and a good reflection of the fact that this city is indeed much more interested in dialogue that brings us together rather than in propaganda that separates and divides. The night was the fruit of the labours another couple of strong women of faith – Martha Lee and Remy Boulbol from the U of W’s center of Religion and Culture. I offer them my sincere thanks for bringing God’s voice to the Windsor Community through the work and witness of these three great women.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said “People hate each other because they fear each other, and they fear each other because they don’t know each other, and they don’t know each other because they are often separated from each other.” Many thanks to the Faith Club for removing separation, many thanks to God for giving these women such a strong voice – let us all work with people like Martha Lee, like Remy Boulbol, and like the faith club to remove the walls that divide us, and remove the fear that enslaves us so that we may embrace each other in love and in peace.