In 2000, Polish Warsaw-based graphic designer Piotr Młodożeniec, submitted an entry in an international art competition sponsored by the Museum on the Seam for Dialogue, understanding and Coexistence. The image consisted of several icons that represented a variety of religions. Since then, various versions have emerged, but they all represent and honor different religions with respect. You may have seen these images on bumper stickers. They’ve become one of my favorite images because they strive to bring religions together in love and peace.
The Dalai Lama said, “The whole purpose of religion is to facilitate love, compassion, patience, tolerance, humility, forgiveness.” He also stated, “When there is peace among religions, there will be peace in our world.”
One thing I’ve learned is that in order to find this peace, we need to come together and learn from each other. If you want to know more about a religion, ask people from that religion to find out what they believe. Don’t just believe the speculations, beliefs, rumors, lies, or whatever anyone says on the Internet. Even then, please remember that the person’s beliefs may not necessarily represent their religion as a whole. Misinformation has been one of the biggest propagators for hate, disharmony, and even wars. Learning about other religions and embracing them doesn’t have to threaten our own beliefs or the religions we currently belong to. They can even enhance our beliefs and help us to have more love, compassion, and understanding for one other.
I love the diversity of all our belief systems and I’ve learned from many of them. I’ve also met and made friends with so many wonderful people from other religions. Instead of focusing on our differences, we need to focus on what we have in common and how we can get along. As Prince sang, “Dearly Beloved, we are gathered here today to get through this thing called life.”
Shakieb Orgunwall declared, “Somewhere in our pursuit of being better Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, or Jews, we’ve forgotten to be human beings and what it means to genuinely love and respect one another. Being human and expressing a common concern for humanity is a prerequisite to membership in any faith.”
And I love what Paul Enso Hillman proclaimed: “I say ‘Namaste’ because I like what it means, not because I am Hindu. A lot of people here think I am Christian because they think I talk about Christian values, but the truth is I am really talking about human values. I’ve been asked if I am a Buddhist, just because I have discovered inner peace. A lot of my friends are Pagans, and they think I am one, too, because I say that being in Nature is my idea of going to church. Do you want to know what I really am? It’s very simple. I don’t need a label to define me. I am a piece of the universe, sentient and manifested, and I am awake.”
Published in the Cookeville Herald Citizen newspaper December 8, 2017.