September 4, 2017

Dialogue Helps Us to Discover What We Have in Common

Tim Saka*

Interfaith dialogue is purposeful interaction among individuals who have different beliefs. Dialogue promotes understanding and respect, reveals common values, and teaches individuals to coexist. It also strengthens individuals' own faith identity.

There are more than 4,000 faith groups in the world, and 5.8 billion people are religiously affiliated. Through technology, distances between people are disappearing, creating one global village. As members of this global village, we can either fuel more wars by focusing on our differences or build a more peaceful world through universal values.

I am a Muslim American, inspired by the peaceful ideas of Fethullah Gulen, a Muslim scholar and worldwide pioneer of interfaith dialogue. Mr. Gulen points out poverty, ignorance and disunity as the universal problems of the world, while suggesting education and dialogue as the global solution.

A Venn diagram of faith traditions, displaying common and different teachings, would reveal many more shared values than not. These universal values are a foundation for global peace. While many faiths claim to be the only true path, they all encourage justice, peace, forgiveness, cooperation and compassion.

Whether Christian, Hindu, Muslim, Jew, Atheist, Agnostic or other, we have a lot to learn from one another. Engaging in dialogue and being willing to cooperate with those who are different from us, we'll discover that we as individuals can help create global peace.

* Tim Saka is a reference Librarian at the Onondaga Community College Coulter Library and the Board President of the CNY Rise Center.

Published on, 3 September 2017, Sunday