October 23, 2021
WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD
A Reflection from the Interpath Traditions
by Thomas P. Bonacci, C.P.
The Parliament of the World Religions gathered on October 16, 2021, for a three-day meeting. The Zoom meeting attracted thousands of people from around the World. The Parliament began on September 11, 1893, when Swami Vivekananda invited religious leaders of diverse faith traditions to meet in the aftermath of the Chicago World’s Fair. The Parliament now meets every three years to foster peace, understanding, and compassion throughout the World.
The Parliament is blessed and fostered by the World’s great teachers and Spiritual leaders. Pope Francis, Patriarch Bartholomew, the Dalia Lama, and Karen Armstrong, to name a few, encouraged us with their wisdom and grace. The wealth of information is enormous and transformative.
What is most striking about this Interfaith gathering is the significant number of organizations throughout the World that have emerged in the midst of war, conflict, genocide, and terrorism dedicated to peace, understanding, and compassion. Thousands of people from every walk of life dedicate themselves to making this World a better place for now and future generations. Even if their efforts are not ultimately successful, no one can deny their dedication and commitment.
Several critical perspectives emerged in the course of the three-day meeting:
Contrary to the perspectives of Social Darwinism, the fittest among us is not the one driven by competition, power, and success. The evolutionary trend is in the direction of cooperation and behavior that is mutually beneficial, according to more and more social scientists. The quest for religious peace and understanding encourages this evolutionary development.
Second, the fusion of the religious (mystical) experience and the quest for justice (repair of the World) is dramatically emerging in real life experiences of peoples throughout the World. The ethic of compassion now typifies the purpose of devotion, ritual, and love for God. The Golden Rule is no longer seen as an ideal but a practical virtue essential for the survival of the World.
Third, humans are part of Nature and have a deep responsibility to live on Earth which is no less than our common home. The practical effect of this particular development is the quest for conciliation with the Indigenous peoples who have suffered genocide, displacement, and colonialization. Canada presents an excellent example as to how a government and a Nation might make amends and reparation.
Fourth, religious communities are transcending themselves to be inclusive of others formerly thought to be enemies, outsiders, heretics. What a joy it is to see Buddhists and atheists meditating together. How inspiring it was to probe the friendship of Archbishop Desmond Tutu and the Dalia Lama. The Grandmothers sang their songs of wisdom as little girls discovered their divine nature. All of us from every place on Earth were inspired by the courage of the Indigenous of the Amazon, who struggle against greed and power to save the Earth.
Finally, we cannot help but be touched by all these people of faith, spirituality, wisdom, and courage who give of themselves day by day and moment by moment.
Thank you, Holy Community, for giving of yourself. You are blessing the World in ways you might never know until you see your courage reflected in the courage of so many around the World.