2015 Parliament Plenary Focus on War, Violence & Hate Speech
The global situation in 2015 brought into focus the responsibility of all people of all faiths to work toward ending:
- Almost Fifty Armed Conflicts
- Innumerable Hate Crimes
- Pervasive Episodes of Hate Speech
One of the fastest and most efficient ways to combat prejudice is to humanize groups of people; to put faces to cultures, to religions, to ethnicities. The 2015 Parliament explicitly addressed humanization throughout its “War, Violence, and Hate Speech” track, with preeminent scholars, religious leaders, and activists delving deep into the
roots of hate and conflict. From stories of individual, personal encounters with hate to state-effected acts of genocide, one factor remained constant- the failure to see one another as human.
Keynote speakers delivered timely, concise messages about what it takes to create a world of peace. While it is often difficult for individuals to change policy or to affect legislation, the 2015 Parliament called out the fact that the capacity to change the way we view our neighbors can start in a community, in a place of worship, and in a household; It is something that we can do on a daily basis, even if our resources are limited or our influence is minimal.
While the “War, Violence and Hate Speech” programming track was a microcosm of this concept, in reality, the entire Parliament exemplified the idea of humanizing one another. Tribal religions from Northern Africa gave signs of peace to adherents of Shinto, Mormons ate meals next to Muslims, Sikhs meditated with Buddhists. Scholars shared peace strategies with young students and world-renowned speakers laughed with grassroots organizers. Humans from 75 countries occupied the same space, and instead of throwing sparks off of one another, they fit together like a jigsaw puzzle; creating a picture through their togetherness that could never have been achieved on their own. Equipped with the inspiring words from keynote speakers and practical toolkits from program presenters, attendees left the Parliament with a new perspective on their global neighbors and a desire to share the earth with them.
The War, Violence, and Hate Speech Plenary fit perfectly into the lattice of similar programming at the Parliament, proving that the attendees and program presenters carried with them a devotion to peace and a spirit of equality. Medea Benjamin’s words at the plenary were bolstered by a lively and convicting panel on Drone Warfare earlier that day, and especially timely words decrying Islamophobia echoed through Parliament programs.