In the past year, communities across the U.S. and Canada have seen an increase in incidents of hate and discrimination. In the U.S., a divisive election season has left myriad communities fractured and relationships broken. Today, many activists across our region are feeling overwhelmed by the realities of their new social and political climate.
However, we must remember that we do not exist in isolation. For years, many communities outside of North America have been involved in building cultures of peace, justice and healing in difficult contexts. We have much to learn from them.
That’s why, on April 5 we hosted a webinar with United Religions Initiative members from Venezuela, Nigeria and Spain entitled “Building Peace in Difficult Times: Learning from Global Activists”:
These seasoned interfaith activists shared personal stories about how they have successfully learned to operate in difficult political and social climates. They shared wisdom and insights from their experiences building peace in the midst of fierce political divisions, unethical governments, and a cultural shift towards xenophobia (including against Muslims, Jews and immigrants). These United Religions Initiative members also provided practical examples of how they remain grounded and avoid burnout.
Too often, we North Americans think of ourselves as teachers and educators of those in other countries. This is a chance for us to flip that script and position ourselves as learners and listeners to our brothers and sisters from Africa, Europe and South America. Watch the video for an informative and inspiring conversation.
Special thanks to the Charter for Compassion for supporting this webinar by lending us the use of their webinar-hosting account.
Sergio works for the UNESCO Association for Interreligious Dialogue of Catalonia, a United Religions Initiative Cooperation Circle, as the coordinator of The Night of Religions of Barcelona, an annual event that highlights the city's religious diversity; and of Bridge Builders of Barcelona, a forum for interreligious interactions among the youth. He holds a degree in philosophy from the Autonomous University of Barcelona and a master's degree in Interreligious, Ecumenical and Cultural Dialogue from the Ramon Llull University. He has been writing for Dialogal, the journal of interreligious dialogue, since 2010.
Emmanuel is the West African Regional Coordinator for the United Religions Initiative and a visionary, scholar, researcher, social innovator, peacebuilder and author of several books. He is the recipient of the 2014 Unsung Heroes of Compassion Award for his service to humanity and his peacebuilding efforts in Nigeria. Emmanuel holds a PhD in Philosophy and Religion, specializing in Metaphysics and Comparative Religion. He also serves at the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations - Education First Summer School, is the founder of the Creative Minds International Academy, a Nigeria-based model coeducational school empowering students with tools and opportunities for critical thinking and is the convener of the Annual International Conference on Youth and Interfaith Dialogue in Nigeria, which hosts over 350 participants from more than 10 countries annually.
Veronica collaborates with the UNESCO Association for Interreligious Dialogue of Catalonia, a United Religions Initiative Cooperation Circle, as a member of the organizational team of The Night of Religions of Barcelona, an annual event aimed to highlight the city's religious diversity; and as coordinator of the religious diversity group of Bridge Builders of Barcelona, a forum for interreligious interactions among young people. She holds a degree in philosophy from the University of Padova and a masters degree in Philosophy from the Ca' Foscari University of Venice. She been writing for Dialogal, the journal of interreligious dialogue, since 2012.
Marina is a Zen Buddhist nun and Zen practitioner since 1990. She is president of the Circulo De Cooperación para el Diálogo (Circle of Cooperation for Dialogue), a URI cooperation Circles in Venezuela whose purpose "is to develop intercultural dialogue to promote peace, mutual comprehension, forgiveness and reconciliation." Marina also hosts a radio program, "Today Exactly Now" on RadioComunidad on Thursdays at 2 p.m. She is a graphic designer and independent producer by profession.