Harvesting Hope

March 18, 2015

by Rev. Robert V. Thompson

Along with approximately 7000 people, I shared in the profound and moving experience of the 1993 Parliament of the World’s Religions in Chicago.

There is a story from the 1993 Parliament that is at once a reminder and metaphor about the power and promise of interfaith engagement.
In one of the 1993 Parliament workshops, a Sikh separatist argued vehemently against the Hindus saying that the Sikhs should have their own state in India. He became very strident, and not surprisingly, a Hindu fundamentalist presenter became angry. It was an electric moment as workshop onlookers witnessed this fiery exchange. Fear filled the room. Hoping to contain the conflict, the security people locked the doors. As the clash intensified, many of the others in the room became visibly fearful. People were not feeling safe.
Then suddenly, a small group of Native Americans began drumming, a handful of Buddhist monks began chanting, others began singing or reciting their various scriptures, and spontaneously, people joined hands, formed a circle, each making their own music, offering their own prayers, until this symphony of connection and compassion drowned out the conflict.

The antidote to the hostility and hatred began with the simple seed of a drumbeat. Then, each of the others added their own seed until the seeds of love grew into a lush chorus of harmony and peace.

That experience reminds me of a quote from Henry David Thoreau: “There is a forest in the seeds.”
Truly, there is a harvest embedded in every seed and every Parliament is a reminder that there is a “forest in the seeds.”
In October of 2015 in Salt Lake City, Utah, we will once again plant seeds and harvest hope.

Land Acknowledgment

The Parliament of the World's Religions acknowledges it is situated on the traditional homelands of the Bodéwadmik (Potawatomi), Hoocąk (Winnebago/Ho’Chunk), Jiwere (Otoe), Nutachi (Missouria), and Baxoje (Iowas); Kiash Matchitiwuk (Menominee); Meshkwahkîha (Meskwaki); Asâkîwaki (Sauk); Myaamiaki (Miami), Waayaahtanwaki (Wea), and Peeyankihšiaki (Piankashaw); Kiikaapoi (Kickapoo); Inoka (Illini Confederacy); Anishinaabeg (Ojibwe), and Odawak (Odawa).

PoWR recognizes the region we now call Chicago remains home to a diversity of Indigenous peoples today and this land upon which we walk, live, and play continues to be Indigenous land.

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