“Since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in minds of men that the defences of peace must be constructed.” – preamble to the UNESCO Constitution
There are many organisations that are striving to bring about peace. SGI International, a worldwide lay Buddhist association that promotes peace, culture and education through personal change and social contribution is one such non-governmental organization – accredited by the United Nations – sharing in the mission of promoting international peace and security. They believe that carrying out effective dialogue and participating in multi-faith activities are key components in the transformation from a culture of violence, based on misunderstanding leading to hatred and ultimately war to one of understanding, tolerance and compassion. A few Saturdays ago, The Feast was fortunate to be invited to share how our work equips and enables young people of different faiths to become peacemakers and advocate for peace through encounters and dialogue at SGI’s Transforming the Human Spirit Exhibition: From a culture of violence to a culture of peace.
We were joined by two young people, Bilal and Eve, who have been involved with The Feast for many years, and who were able to share about their experiences with The Feast and how our work and their faith has transformed them as young people. Here’s their summary of the day:
Today was really amazing. We got to spread the message of The Feast and it was really nice sharing my experience with others. It was really nice seeing another faith today which was Buddhism. good seeing the Buddhists when they started to chant. The Buddhists had a very welcoming nature and that was similar to how we are in our faith as well. We have to be welcoming and its part of our faith to be like that was well as having good characteristics.One of the ladies who spoke said we need to stop funding nuclear weapons. Something interested that she said was that to stop people from wanting to make nuclear weapons is like getting someone to quit smoking – it’s an addiction. But we come into it because some wars are around disagreements of faiths and I think The Feast is trying to stop all of that. What we did today is good because we are spreading that message.”
– Bilal, year 12
Today was very interesting. It was mostly about nuclear stuff which I’d never thought about before and I got a look into what Buddhism looks like and how they worship so that was quite interesting. I had never spoken to a Buddhist before so it was completely new. I felt inspired when they emphasised that this generation has the most potential for changing worlds and creating peace. Some conflict is based around religion but I also think that using nuclear weapons to end it is a bit extreme. It wouldn’t be beneficial to anybody so we should probably just get rid of everything because then it will kill us all if we ever used one.”
– Eve, Year 12
Dave, a volunteer with The Feast also in attendance said –
It was a good chance to see two young people who have come through The Feast and how it’s helped to form their perspective and they view people of different faiths. They articulated themselves very well and shared about the different life skills they’ve learned. It was also a good day to learn more about Buddhism – something which was new to us all. Being able to introduce The Feast to another group of people who may benefit from talking honestly and openly about faith and finding how we can work together to do what we all believe which is seeking to make his world a better place where we can all get along with one another. It was excellent!”
There were many things said and displayed during the exhibition which, for me, reinforced the value and necessity of our work and the value of working in partnership with other organisations at times. I particularly loved hearing about the work of ican – a global campaign coalition working to ban nuclear weapons. Rather than write an everlastingly long blog, I thought it best to let you see for yourself by capturing some of the images from the exhibition. But here are a few quotes I really loved. We’d love to hear your thoughts on them too!
“Peace cannot be achieved through violence, it can only be attained through understanding.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
“Genuine dialogue requires courage and strength.”
“Can we find a bridge between complex world issues and how we live our daily lives?”
“Can it be that love and kindness ripples out from our lives until they reach distant shores?” Quotes from Exhibition