Interfaithfully Speaking: Finding peace and working together as one community
Many might wonder how interfaith groups work. I see interfaith work as a way to exemplify for the world that not only is peace possible between diverse ideologies, but that friendships are very likely. It is in talking face to face, looking into each other’s eyes, that we see the beauty in the diversity. I have been a part of Claremont interfaith for only a year as a representative of the Cobb Institute, but I have quickly developed respect, admiration, and gratitude for my fellow interfaith members. This is a welcoming group because this is welcoming work. My heart is full. I wish we could show this to the world. Indeed, we try. We hold events throughout the year. The Thanksgiving Interfaith service has become tradition.
Whenever there is a tragedy and our neighbors in faith need comfort, you will find us holding a candlelight vigil or a Zoom prayer service. In a divided country, in a divided world, we hope to show that differences don’t mean that we must fight. We live in a relational world and what I do affects you. What you do affects me. It is not a matter of you, or I. It is a matter of “we.” We can do all that we do because of cooperation, in spite of our differences.
We live in the illusion of separateness, but our earth is teaching us just how connected we are. We share the same fate. With this in mind, Dr. John B. Cobb Jr., the namesake of the Cobb Institute, has written a letter addressed to both President Biden and China’s President Xi, asking them to enter into conversation about the future of our planet. The statement reads as follows:
“We are thankful to President Biden and President Xi for what they are doing to revive our hope that there might be a good future for our grandchildren and great-grandchildren. We call on both leaders to set aside differences to cooperatively work to save the planet, our common home, making this their top priority. In order to bring about this reality, we are asking them to summon all their courage and wisdom so as to make in tandem the necessary changes – economically, politically, militarily, and ecologically – that neither nation can make on its own. May future generations look back on their joint heroism and leadership in saving our planet with gratitude for making possible the life they enjoy.”
This is a big request that may never happen, but it is possible. We must dream big to solve big problems. This is not about politics. This is about survival. This is about hope and a belief that we can choose cooperation. Claremont Interfaith and many other interfaith groups around the world have shown that if we begin a conversation, we create new possibilities. What happens in our environment affects the United States, but also affects China. It’s not an “us vs. them,” but rather, “we.” Climate change doesn’t recognize borders.
Just as Claremont Interfaith is a beautiful, diverse “we,” let us all notice the ways that “we” belong to each other as we ride this fragile, blue boat home.
Rev. Kathleen Reeves
Cobb Institute, a Community for Process & Practice