Colin Powell, The Dalai Lama, and Gustav Niebuhr

Colin Powell said

“A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work.”


Some dreams seem very attainable and others are farther away and indeed take more work, and more determination. I have been absent from writing now for a month. In no small way it is because I have been praying about how I can make dreams a reality. Some dreams are big and some are small.

I, for instance, am dreaming of making it through Lent without French fries. So I need the determination and will power to stick to my guns and avoid that evil little fried potato. But it is all relative….

Conquering the French fry is small in comparison to the larger goal of losing significant weight so I might be healthier. To make that dream a reality, it will again need determination, sweat and loads of hard work. But it is all relative…

The dream of losing weight seems to demand less than the dream of completing my thesis for my doctoral work. As I am working currently on my ‘final thesis proposal’ and I am keenly aware of how much determination and hard work is needed to get through this process. But it is all relative…

The subject of my writing is the call to embrace our baptismal promise to strive for peace and unity for all people and to respect the dignity of every human being. Specifically, I am suggesting that a faithful expression of that baptismal covenant demands that we engage conversation and not conversion with the world’s religions.  This is a dream that needs the hard work and determination of all the people of God. This takes some real hard work, and determination. Peace and unity will not happen by some stroke of magic. We must get to know one another better. Some might suggest that we have no need to converse with people of different faiths, that it serves no purpose…that sort of discourse is an obstacle that we must overcome. Resistance is a part of the hard work I would suggest. We need to be heartened by the words of the Dalai Lama who reminds us that this work may well be an exercise in getting to know ourselves better.

“If we are each to contribute to religious harmony and a more peaceful world, followers of different religions must be true to what they believe. When you discover the deeper value of your own tradition through actual practice, you will come to recognize the value of other traditions as well.”



The dream of peace and unity for all people is closer to us when we realize that we can best achieve it by being true to what we believe. The deep value of our own tradition is that we are called to be a people who go beyond tolerating others to loving others. Our tradition calls us not just to love the neighbour but also to love and welcome the stranger.

Gustav Niebuhr in his book Beyond Tolerance writes:

“Dialogue is an activity that represents a state of relations going well beyond tolerance…You can coexist with people without ever having to speak meaningfully with them. What holds society together is not just people who will tolerate others, but people who will actually go beyond that, to provide the glue that nourishes social relationships.”



That glue that he refers to is knowledge and understanding and my hope is that our work as a parish might bring more people together toward dialogue, conversation and understanding. This is not an easy task. We are up against people like Terry Jones who burned a Qur’an last week. He intends to visit Dearborn in April to protest outside the Islamic Center there.  With ‘Christians’ who behave this way, dialogue can be difficult. There is much to do, there are dreams to work toward…But it is all relative.

On a side note, I have been dreaming of getting back to blogging – with some determination, that dream has been achieved….and I am French fry free now for 21 days…I dream on….

One thought on “Colin Powell, The Dalai Lama, and Gustav Niebuhr

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  1. Hi Kevin
    Your blog hit home today. Thank you for keeping me focused on my goals and journey through life. Sometimes getting side tracked happens and it takes a few words or reminders to bring everything back to your road to travel.
    Thanks for reminding me.

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