In November 2018, over 8000 of us gathered in the Toronto convention center to participate in the eighth convening of the Parliament of the World’s Religions. We were shoulder-to-shoulder, face-to-face, hand-to-hand together to affirm “the promise of inclusion, the power of love: pursuing global understanding, reconciliation, and change.”
Now we are physically separated from one another in a time of a pandemic crisis, and now more than we knew at the time we must grow together even more closely to meet our current crises. The rapid global spread of COVID–19 forces us to recognize how interconnected we are in the physical world. It invokes in us the need to find new ways to bring comfort to one another, to cooperate with one another, and to overcome the ravages of disease and death.
We also acknowledge the heroism of those in the medical professions and all the workers in hospitals and other medical facilities directly fighting the disease. We are grateful to those who continue to provide essential services so that those in isolation can meet their basic human needs of food, clothing, and shelter. We are humbled by their courage and dedication.
It is true that the current pandemic forces a physical separation in order to check the spread of a physical disease. But this should cause us to recommit ourselves to fostering generative soulful attachments to one another, and our ethical attachments to other parts of the earth.
We humbly ask you to keep three things in mind:
First, you are not alone. It is understandable that when we hear the words “global crisis” we focus on the word “crisis” rather than “global.” This pandemic is affecting all of us, irrespective of race or religion, and there are oceans of empathy available to us from every part of the world. We are all in this together.
Second, no one is expendable. Those who can avoid suffering by isolating themselves, yet choose not to, which includes unsafe gatherings of religious communities, are putting vulnerable populations at even greater risk. Suffering in this time of peril is unavoidable, but it must not be borne by the most vulnerable: the poor, the sick, the elderly, the essential low-wage workers, the medical personnel.All have irreplaceable worth.
Third, we must protect and care for one another. The mobilizing power of persons of faith and of faith communities is unmatched, and is needed now more than ever as hate speech and violent rhetoric spreads across virtual platforms against vulnerable communities. As all of our religious traditions teach us:“Be kind.”
The Parliament joins interfaith and interreligious organizations across the globe to utilize our diversity of beliefs and practices and remains committed to serving as a convener of the interfaith movement, virtually, to continue working together for a world-wide community that embraces love, compassion, justice, and peace.
Stay connected to the global interfaith community by:
• Joining Our YouTube Community - Explore recordings of past Parliament convenings and programming, and for the next two months enjoy never before released full-length video programming. Released bi-monthly.
• Joining the PoWR Partner Community on Facebook - Stay connected with members of the global interfaith community from around the world on our official Facebook group.
• Joining Upcoming Virtual Climate Events - The current pandemic impacts virtually all dimensions of daily life, but also serves to remind us of the equally threatening interconnected crises that loom beyond our immediate consciousness: climate change, nuclear arms proliferation, and the scourge of inequality in all its forms, to name a few. This April, we are hosting two webinars and sharing special climate prayers from faith leaders from around the world in celebration of Earth Day.
• Volunteering with the Parliament - Remote volunteer opportunities are available year-round, connect with our team and support the work of our ongoing programs.
We remain in humble service with hope for humanity that stretches around the globe.