Building the Global Beloved Community

By Rev. Dr. William (Bill) Lesher
Chair Emeritus of the Parliament of the World's Religions

By Rev. Dr. William (Bill) Lesher
Chair Emeritus of the Parliament of the World's Religions

It was the next to the last day of the fifth Parliament event in Melbourne, Australia, 2009. I was standing on the third level of that magnificent convention center looking down on the crowd of people streaming up and down on the stairway and the escalators. They were Buddhist, Christians and Hindus, Indigenous people, Jains and Jews, Muslims, Pagans and Sikhs, Seekers, and Zoroastrians - all mixed together. They were locked in animated conversation. They were obviously enjoying one another. They were respecting each other, listening and learning from each other, and planning together for a better world. 

Years earlier, Martin Luther King Jr. looked on another diverse crowd of whites and blacks, religious leaders, labor organizers, housemaids and ship workers, "brimming with vitality and enjoying a rare comradeship," as King put it. Then Dr. King prophesied, "I knew I was seeing a microcosm of the humankind of the future in that moment of luminous and genuine unity." (From the book, Where Do We Go From Here, by MLK)

I believe that each Parliament event is also a microcosm of the humankind of the future. Dr. King called his vision of racial unity, "The Beloved Community." I think he would approve our Parliament vision of interfaith harmony as an expression of the emerging "Global Beloved Community."