A Letter to Friends on the Pathway to Peace
At the turn of the new year, Mussie Hailu, Vice Chair of the United Religions Initiative’s (URI) Global Council, wrote a touching and inspiring letter to URI members worldwide. Though written specifically to the URI, its content is broad and I commend it to all participants in the global interfaith movement.
Dear Friends on the Pathway to Peace,
Greetings of peace and light. God's blessing as we begin this New Year. May we be with his presence at deep levels of our thinking, feeling and acting. There are so many inspiring stories and news to share with you.
One of the tremendous achievements of humanity in the 20th century is that ordinary men and women like you and me are increasingly recognizing our responsibility to help resolve issues of local, national and international concern. It is with this in mind that we all join the United Religions Initiative to promote enduring, daily interfaith cooperation, to end religiously motivated violence and to create cultures of peace, justice and healing for the Earth and all living beings.
As Gandhi so beautifully said, we should “be the change we want to see in the world.” If we can change ourselves, we can change the world. It everyone does his or her bit, together we can accomplish our common dream which is a better and peaceful world in which all humankind can live in peace and harmony along with nature and all other living beings.
Our world is continuously changing, and in this changing world we can't remain as we are, nor can we go back to conditions that are now behind us. We can only move forward, but not on the same path which has been leading us into war, conflict, violence, hunger, discrimination, poverty, disrespect, hate and all the other negative elements. We should not go on living in crisis and conflict. The world need not remain violent, and economically, socially and ecologically unsustainable. We can progress towards harmony, cooperation, livable communities, and a value system that nourishes and sustains us and all things that live on this Earth. For this to happen we need to follow the Pathway to Peace—a path which lead as from war to peace, from killing each other to co-existence, from disrespect to honoring each other, from hate to love, from despair to hope, from darkness to light, from being selfish to living for the sake of others and from revenge to forgiveness. For me, URI is this Pathway to Peace. We need to be guided by the Golden Rule and Spiritual values. Values like
A love of Truth—Essential for a just, inclusive and progressive society. A sense of Justice—Recognition of the rights and needs of all. A spirit of Cooperation—Based on the principle of right human relationships. A sense of personal Responsibility—for family, community, country, the world and nature. Serving the common Good—through the sacrifice of selfishness. What is good for all is good for each one.
Some of the problems our world is suffering, especially in developing countries, are war, unemployment, widening income gaps, environmental degradation, HIV/AIDS, poverty, climate change, lack of basic needs. Though the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 25.1 says "Everyone has the right to a standard of living which is adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control," the reality is far from this. Though we have started the journey, we have a long way to go.
By acting wisely, effectively and collectively through URI, and by engaging others, we can create a more peaceful and better world for all. It is already happening. Recent research on world conflict has demonstrated that there are fewer armed conflicts now than in 1992. With so many problems in the world, we often lose track of what is positive and so we are not aware that the work we are doing is making a difference.
I want to take this opportunity to thank all of you for your dedication to the work of URI. One of the most important aspects of choosing to work within an association like URI is the fact that it is an opportunity to work in a group, rather than as an individual alone. A group like ours represents true unity-in-diversity—a unity focused by a common vision and the principles through which that vision is realized.
Our work is most powerful when we work as a team. As you know, there are cooperation circles throughout the world who are working tirelessly to make this world a better place for all. This is something we can collectively celebrate.
Thank you for being with URI on this Pathway to Peace. Together we can make it.
May Peace Prevail in our Mind
May Peace Prevail in our Heart
May Peace Prevail in our Family
May Peace Prevail in our Country
May Peace Prevail on Earth
Mussie Hailu Vice Chair of the United Religions Initiative