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Mayor Brandon Johnson Addresses the Opening Plenary

Mayor Brandon Johnson addressed the Opening Plenary at the 2023 Parliament of the World’s Religions in Chicago, USA.

Thank you and good morning to the world. It is an immense privilege and honor to welcome the Parliament of World’s Religions back to the greatest city in the world, the city of Chicago. There is no better place to host this gathering than right here at McCormick Place. I would argue that there’s no city more meaningful to the Parliament of World’s Religions than the city of Chicago, your legacy is profound dating back to 1893 where a creation of a global platform for the engagement of religions of the East and West found its home right here in Chicago.

Thank you for the cultural unity and the inclusivity that embeds this incredible moment because it is those same values of unity and inclusivity that allows the Parliament of World’s Religions to continue to thrive in 2023 and I’m confident that you will renew your commitments to one another around the very values that were birthed here in Chicago. Because Chicago truly centers itself as a place of diversity and inclusivity.

I’m honored that we celebrate each and every waking moment in Chicago. Now we recognize that our rich and vibrant communities are made of a robust variety of cultures, traditions, religions, and dreams from around the world that is truly what makes our city strong. Each community enriches our collective identity for the very soul of Chicago. As mayor I want to continue to nurture that soul and further Chicago’s commitment to equity and inclusivity now there is no greater group to connect with communities than our faith leaders.

In fact, there is an inherent trust between faith leaders as well as the community. Your spiritual traditions have the power to guide people to a path of peace and nurture a spirit of mutual respect and collaboration. Now, I know that this is the Parliament of the World’s Religions, but I hope you don’t mind me quoting from the scripture that I was raised on at this moment. From the book of Psalms, “Behold how good and pleasant it is for brethren and sisters to dwell together in unity.” 

Now, because we are of one mind, of one spirit, it is that like-mindedness and is that one spirit that is going to bring the world together. It’s that type of harmony and unity amongst people that the people of the world deserve to see. Because goodness and joy on full display in this room creates the type of atmosphere those who are living in poverty deserve to see. Because it is our collective joy and hope that we bring to the world will ultimately help bring people out of economic despair and poverty. That is the work of the world’s religion. 

When we think about our mission to promote peace and justice and sustainability and dignity amongst all beings, let’s recognize the urgency of this moment. The urgency in this moment requires us to not just simply rely upon the recitation of scriptures and our sacred books, but it requires us to demonstrate the most incredible act and power known to humankind, and that is the act of love.

So let us lead with love and understanding. Love is the greatest conqueror on the planet, and if we learn to love one another, what enormous potential this planet could have. So let’s continue to demonstrate love and continue to have the dialogues around the world, to bring about climate justice, economic justice, housing justice, education justice, transportation justice, good paying jobs. I’m talking about the act of love, and that love ultimately requires us to collaborate with one another.

As mayor of the city of Chicago, I will continue to bring people together, surrounded by our commonality of loving one another, loving people enough to invest in people. Because the scriptures that I was raised on says that our hearts and our treasure has to be aligned. When you love people, you invest in people. And that’s what we do here in the great city of Chicago. 

Now, in closing, I challenge all of us today, those who live here in the city and those who live around the globe, to connect with your various communities, using your homes and houses of worship and positions to make sure that every resident in this great city and cities across the world have a peaceful and prosperous life. And for those of you who are looking to move from your cities, the city of Chicago is fully welcoming you. So continue to engage with one another. Continue to support one another. Continue to build stronger societies based on our collective strength. 

We will not allow those who wish to plant seeds of division to conquer in this moment. It will be the world’s religious leaders that ultimately brings us all together. And as mayor of the city of Chicago, someone who is deeply connected to my faith, I know a song that my mother would sing, that we have come this far by faith and that we serve a God that never fails us. 

So continue to bring people together. Continue to ignite change so that the world gets to see the greatest gift known to humankind. And that is the gift of love.

Thank you all and God bless you. Thank you.

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