One December day in 2011, I met Lord Sacks, Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth; the Archbishop of Canterbury; and Lord Carey of Clifton, chairman of the World Faiths Development Dialogue. I was at a meeting in the House of Lords in London, England. The topic was, “Christians in the Middle East.” I went as the honorary guest of my friend Canon Andrew White, who was an invitee. It was an incredible blessing to meet such world-changers. My heart was floating.
A favorite quote of mine that day came from Lord Sacks, who is wonderfully benevolent of heart and kind of conversation. He noted that Christians in the Middle East have felt more fear since the Arab Spring. He went on to say, “The fate of Christians in the Middle East today is the litmus test of the Arab spring. Freedom is indivisible, and those who deny it to others will never gain it for themselves.” It was a sterling observation.
Moreover, his heart handed out well-watered compassion for those suffering anywhere. Sometimes, when I think about what healthy interfaith dialogue looks like, I think of that day in the House of Lords. I wholeheartedly believe in truth, mind you. I’m not interested in compromising or changing one’s beliefs in order to “come together” or create a superficial sense of unity. However, I am extremely interested in finding commonalities- goals, values, and dreams amongst varying groups, to discover how we can cooperate to bring hope and healing to nations.
I believe these precepts of listening, love, and learning are key to traveling well too. It is easy to let difference become unnecessary gaps in our experiences, observations, and engagement levels in a new atmosphere, nation, or culture.
Yet, love can do what nothing else can. When we choose to love those of other faiths- we hear them, we appreciate them, and we acknowledge their freedom to be themselves. Such love has the timbre and mettle to bring solutions to global problems. Yes, love can do this.
What’s an example of a time you set aside a difference with someone and through unity accomplished great things?