The Parliament has remained steadfast in its audacity to hope – hope for a better world, hope for the future of our planet, hope for each other. It is compassion, however, that is perhaps the most enduring quality of the people that make up the global interfaith movement. At the Compassion in Action Plenary at the 2021 Parliament of the World’s Religions, streamed on Monday, October 18th, inspiring faith and civic leaders emphasized the critical role of a compassionate morality in the betterment of our world.
If the Plenary on Hope was the Convening’s most celebratory, the Compassion in Action Plenary served as a reminder that our movement cannot afford to be too self-congratulatory. The plenary kicked off with a keynote address by His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, who challenged participants to do more, go further, take concrete action, “Therefore, the Parliament of the World’s Religions is something very, very useful, and very important. As I mentioned earlier, we members of the Parliament should be more active. Not only having ideas, but being practical. Wherever we see a problem, particularly in the name of religion, we should be active to bring about peace and harmony.”
The call for peace, harmony, and justice was echoed by keynotes from Dr. Eboo Patel, Rev. James M. Lawson Jr., representatives of the OMNIA Institute for Contextual Leadership, and Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, who highlighted the responsibilities for communities of faith in empowering compassionate movements of change. In the words of Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, “We have to escalate the non-violent moral struggle. It’s time to make ending poverty a priority and it’s possible. It is time to expand democratic participation across the world and in the United States and stop the suppression, it is possible. It is time to protect free speech and the ability to organize, it’s time to ensure that we have policies that change the condition of the 140 million poor in this country and the billions around the world. It is time to be in a world where anybody who works makes a living wage. It’s time to enact fair taxes on corporations and the wealthy…It is past time.”
The plenary also featured reflections of faith from Atmarpit Nemiji, Mother Maya Tiwari, Lord Karan Bilimoria CBE, DL, Mallika Kaur, and Steve Sarowitz. In their inspiring keynotes, these luminaries took the opportunity to highlight the uniqueness of their respective faith, the history of their communities, and called fellow faithful to uphold the moral and ethical direction of their faith.
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