In an article published in the Huffington Post, Arzu Kaya Uranli writes eloquently about the need for Americans to educate themselves about each other’s religious traditions. So many different religions are flourishing in America. Rather than being separated by the differences in how we worship, we should focus on what we share in common: love. She writes:
“Nowadays, in America people on the street or in crowds who look at others wearing certain clothing or accessories (i.e., the headscarf, the Sikh turban, a crucifix necklace, the kippah or the civara) might think they cannot relate to those individuals because they belong to a different religion, but it would be very easy for them to find many religious similarities if they had the correct information about other beliefs. Even though different religious communities gather in different temples, wear different clothing and use different languages, movements and patterns in their rituals, the holiness, spirituality and love they share is exactly the same.”
This statement reminds me of a conversation I had recently with an old veteran who was collecting donations for a youth program on Memorial Day. He said in a quiet voice with great feeling, “I don’t care what color your skin is, what kind of clothes you wear, whether you’re young or old, what we all need and what all religious traditions teach is simply Love.”
Ms. Uranli also emphasizes the importance of educating our young to respect our multi-cultural diversity within the school system, she writes, “In this era, pluralism and interfaith dialogue are the only ways to give communities the chance to grow stronger in harmony and unity. People have to educate themselves in building interfaith literacy. I think it is not enough when religious communities conduct some interfaith dialogue. There should be official education for that in schools and interfaith dialogue should be added to curriculums from the elementary level all the way to college because every responsible citizen who wants to discover the new religious America has to learn about the living religions in the country.”
This is an important point because the income gap between the rich and poor is growing in America and communities seem to be more and more fragmented. Mutual respect based on inter-faith understanding can help bring us together.