Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue Congress, Bilbao-2005

Youth Team
Azaola, Itziar • Blaschkauer, Ayelet • Bravo, Raquel • Brzozowski, Grzegorz • Gregori, Daniela • Hinrichs, Nava • Jacob, Thomas • Katner, Garth T. • Martínez, Elin Xoana • Mathieu, Timothé • Nicolini, Bianca • Pacheco, Eva • Quintián Pacheco, Ida Tatiana • Sharifzadeh Boushehri, Negin • Tjahjono, Budi • Zubizarreta, Gaizka

One small rock has been moved this week

We come from Spain, Israel, Italy, Poland, Germany, the USA, Iran, Mexico, Zimbabwe, Belgium, England, Paraguay, Indonesia and Brazil, as well as from many different religious backgrounds: Brahma Kumaris, Bahai’s, Christians, Jewish and Muslims.

Considering the diversity of the group, it was a real challenge to agree on a common ground of identity. We started off by concentrating on self-reflection, by asking ourselves how we perceive our own identities, and what is the role that culture and religion play on it.

For some cultures, religion represents a way of life; for others, it represents the highest aspiration of their existences; and still for others, religion is an Institution that claims to deliver a message of salvation. In an age of globalization, religious identity can no longer be attributed to a specific nation but, needs to be seen as the local interpretation of a common cultural manifestation of spiritual values. Faith is also determined by both specific cultural values and global socio-economic forces. So, while every world religion is universal, its expression at the local level is unique. History, traditions and geography shape these differences even within the same thread of faith.

There are two ways of interpreting the globalization: first, we can allow the world market to homologate every aspect of our life, and therefore, risk placing religion as an exchangeable commercial item. Second, we can see religion as a source of helpful energy to let us appreciate diversity without necessity of unification.

We cannot forget that today, religion is used many times as a weapon to justify economic and political crisis, as well as atrocious acts which are justified in the name of faith. This behaviour only transforms differences into conflicts.

Having in mind all of the above, the world must learn that by encountering with, and learning from, each others faiths and backgrounds, cultures and experiences, and despite our differences, we will be able to find a common platform of values and understanding. We are all human beings with similar needs and wills, and as such, we must learn to share and understand each other.

But, who are the others? They are all human beings with whom we interact. However, this definition depends on how we define our boundaries: within our families, communities, religions, cultures or nations.

To achieve a successful dialogue, no matter wherever we put our boundary, we must respect each others spaces and not expect others to take part in our own ways of believing and celebrating. Instead, we should concentrate in co-operating with each other and to educate ourselves in learning and respecting each others culture.

Achieving peace is a long process. We believe that the young generation should be educated and motivated towards this value. This should not only be left on a theoretical level, but we should find practical steps of implementation. As a group we have learned that we should live together not DESPITE our differences but WITH them.

The world has never been so rich in possibilities and diversity between and within religions. It is our duty to search for ways of transforming the words into actions. It is not an easy task, and, perhaps, we will not be yet the generation to see it accomplished.

We can see it as a big mountain that must be moved. There are three possibilities of facing the problem: First, we can keep on discussing the size of the mountain and the difficulty of the task ahead. Second, we can keep on searching for big and technological solutions of how we will move the whole mountain – ¨the magic solution¨. Third, we can start breaking the mountain in little pieces and moving one rock at a time, even if this will take a long long time.

Nowadays, we believe that we should focus on which rock to move and how is the best way to do it. We must not forget that, while “moving rocks”, we should be very careful we are respecting each others spaces. And that future generations understand that it is not only a rock being moved, but a step forward towards moving this whole mountain.

We are very grateful for having this very enriching experience and we assure you that we will make our best not to leave it only as a dialogue. One rock has been moved this week.

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