I Choose to Live in an Age of Transformation
In his April letter, URI Executive Directory Charles Gibbs writes "I refuse to live in an 'Age of Terror' … I choose… to live in an 'Age of Transformation'." Please read on for more of this beautiful and inspiring message.
May 31st, 2005
Dear Friends of the United Religions Initiative,
I refuse to live in an “Age of Terror”, though many politically powerful people and extremists, bent on destruction and death, see our time through that lens.
I choose, along with URI members and countless other sisters and brothers around the world, to live in an “Age of Transformation”.
This age of transformation is no more risk free than an age of terror, but it is an age of active hope rather than disabling fear. An age of cooperation rather than domination. An age for healing ancient and modern wounds rather than perpetuating an endless, escalating cycle of wounding. An age not for promoting violence but for creating peace.
Those who believe that this is an age of transformation, and URI members are among their ranks, choose to risk reaching out to those we do not know to create cultures of peace, justice and healing. We choose to value, indeed celebrate our diverse national, religious and cultural identities, while claiming a unifying identity as citizens of this Earth and children of one sacred source of all life.
So, without denying the violence of all kinds perpetrated within and by all nations, often motivated by religious division, we choose to focus instead on the flowering of human goodness and cooperation that creates the possibility for a new and hopeful future for humanity.
A small, but stunning example of this movement occurred on 7 April 2005 when bus service connecting the Indian and Pakistani sides of Kashmir resumed for the first time in over 50 years. China View reported:
An emotional Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said he was proud of the hundreds of people who had made the bus service possible so that families divided for more than fifty years could come together. "Brothers and sisters will hold hands again, parents will meet children," he said and talked of his dream of a beautiful Kashmir where there was once again only joy and song.
The Times of India described the journey this way:
Like the peace process itself, passengers face a difficult and dangerous ride. The 170-km dusty highway from Muzaffarabad to Srinagar clings to the steep, forested Pir Panjal mountains, perilously close to an often straight drop thousands of feet to the surging Jhelum.
The road is swept daily for mines. In places, it is single lane and the wheels of the 19-seater buses come within inches of a sheer drop. Each of India's buses bears the ancient Kashmiri couplet: "I broke the sword and made sickles out of it".
A final word should go to Farooq Ahmed Lone, a 25-year-old student in Uri, the last main town before the border on the Indian side. He commented, “If this kind of thing continues, then maybe we will get to the point where we will get rid of the militancy and there will be a better life.”
URI is committed to daily engagement in the work of interfaith cooperation to make real the better life that Farooq Ahmed Lone and billions of other people on this Earth yearn for. We had hoped to have our own peace pilgrimage of URI members from India to Pakistan in early April, but it proved impossible to obtain the necessary visas. Still, a Pakistani interfaith peace conference with honored guests from other countries was convened in Lahore, and URI remains committed to work for the day when this India to Pakistan peace pilgrimage will take place, as one of countless URI actions for peace, justice and healing around the world.
This commitment and hundreds like it will be carried out by our Cooperation Circles on five continents and supported by the members of URI’s outgoing Global Council and incoming Global Council, officially selected on 6 April 2005. News of the new GC can be found on our website www.uri.org.
It is inconceivable to me that in these early years of the 21st century when there is such a flowering of human cooperation around the world, we would let our time be defined by “terror”. URI chooses a different way. We can all choose a different way.
In this spirit, I extend greetings of love and peace to you and to all our sisters and brothers around the world. And I invite you to join the global movement to create an age of transformation.
Love, The Rev. Canon Charles P. Gibbs
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