Organised religions in HK can be a catalyst for creating unity

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 09 February, 2016, 12:15am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 09 February, 2016, 12:15am

I am a member of the Hong Kong Baha’i Community and refer to the letter by K. P. Daswani (“Look within for world peace”, January 31).

Your correspondent makes two important points: “Unless each individual recognises his organic unity with the rest of creation, he cannot be at peace” and we need to question “my” religion “and find out if it teaches me of ‘The One’ that holds and sustains the variety”.

Regardless of race, nationality or creed, we are one humanity sharing one homeland – the earth. History demonstrates civilisation has evolved from smaller to larger collective units – families and clans into tribes, settlements into towns then cities; cities into city states that became nations. Today nations unite around common goals. World unity is the next step in human evolution. It is a fundamental condition for world peace.

At a recent World Religion Day event sponsored by the Hong Kong Baha’i Community and Hong Kong Network on Religion and Peace, 50 individuals representing 11 religions and faith-based organisations discussed the topic Religion as a Force for Establishing Unity in Diversity.

There was unanimous agreement that there is more that unites us than divides us. There’s a fundamental unity at the core of each religion’s spiritual teachings – universal brotherhood, love for one’s neighbour, the golden rule, and living a virtuous life. One participant expressed the need for more interfaith exchanges, not to debate ideologies but to just meet and talk, saying there was no place to meet and talk and get to know each other.

How can organised religions in Hong Kong be a catalyst for creating unity in diversity at the local level? Religions are in a position to take the lead in creating bridges of understanding and mutual respect, by reaching out, inviting leaders of other faiths to address their congregations, and by organising platforms that promote interfaith and cross-cultural dialogue.

And what can we as individuals do? It’s time we stopped viewing difference as something to fear and disdain, but as something to embrace and promote, as something that enriches us individually and collectively.

We can create a society of unity in diversity, a unity without uniformity, an ideal that extends our loyalties and does not abrogate them. Unity in diversity is the highest possible attainment of a civilisation, a testimony to the most noble possibilities of the human race.

Kate Weisman,member, organising committee , Hong Kong Network on Religion and Peace