Parliament Ambassador Working in Brussels Says Interfaith Relationships Help Healing After Terrorism

Written by Han Steijnebrugh
March 24, 2016


How to describe what feelings are in my heart now that Brussels has been under attack and so many people have been killed by terrorist attacks? What to do now?

It is a chilling thought that I know and used that very subway station in Brussels recently, regularly, while going to interreligious meetings in Brussels. I could have been a victim too and left my wife and child behind.

In conversations about this kind of risk I told my family that even in the “unlikely event” of this happening to me, I still think that taking the risk is preferable to a world without freedom to speak out, without interreligious contacts, without work for peace. That kind of world would seem to me like a real inferno on earth.

Well, all of that seems easy to say, as long as nothing happens. But now, lightning struck not even that far from us, some 50 miles from here in a city that I need and visit, and in which I know people, personal friends.

Here are some thoughts that I found helpful and that I would like to share with you:

Via the internet, I feel strengthened and encouraged and lucky to be able to share reactions and feelings with people from India to France, Belgium and the USA, from all over the world, really. This sharing amongst people that I know, via interreligious work and the Parliament of the World’s Religions, helps me coping with the situation.
Praying seems to be the right thing to do now, but also, going on doing our interreligious work seems as important as ever.
It might seem a strange thought, but there is another side to this too: even now, the Western world is still sooo much safer and more comfortable compared to most other places on earth. So, we can be thankful for that, yes even now!

Again, this seems easy to say, since I did not lose any personal friends or get hurt myself. But as a bystander I think it is important to feel what there is to be felt and share that. It is not fear or anger, the well-known aims of terrorism, but a deep sadness that I experience now and like everything else, that will pass.

Love, on the other hand, does not pass. It is the only treasure you can take with you even after death. It is virtually indestructible….

So I decided to write more often about little acts of compassion and Love that I experience in the interreligious contacts, and share that with you via the Internet.

It seems the right thing to do now- a real antidote with a very tangible effect on a personal level.

The world is also full of good and positive actions, even now. For instance, the wonderful reaction of the Sikh community in Brussels, doing what they are good at and can do: cooking for and, as the public transport system was down, offering shelter and a ride back home to those afflicted. These acts of kindness and love are so much stronger than all the violence.

-Han Steijnebrugh
Ambassador for the Parliament of the Worlds Religions
The Netherlands

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