It's About Time

18 January 2018, 1:11 PM
Time Magazine - Optimists Issue Cover

The cover of the Time Magazine issue.

Bill Gates was appointed Guest Editor of Time Magazine for the January 15, 2018 edition. He asked some of the people he most respects to “write about what makes them optimistic.” He entitled his editorial approach as “The Good News.” Since that phrase has deep associations for me, as a religionist, I hurried through Time to see what positive innovations were cited in the realm of religion. Sadly, none of his respected friends had anything promising to say about religions, or about religions relating to religions.

On the contrary, this edition of Time mentioned the 10 top risks facing the world in 2018. Of the top ten risks were dangers specific to Southern Asia, and all were about “religion” although that word was never mentioned. In Malaysia and Indonesia, there was the threat of Islamism. In Myanmar, there was the on-going persecution of Muslim Rohingya by the Buddhist government. And in India, the ruling party might use Hindu extremism to punish Muslim, Christians and others in order to win next year’s elections. I assumed that religion, at least, would be mentioned under “The Bad News.” But there was no mention at all. I figure that the word “religion” is becoming taboo, because this section was entitled “Identity Politics…”

I figure that the word “religion” is becoming taboo.

IT’S ABOUT TIME that the world is informed that Good News is coming out of the realm of religion. New partnerships are being forged among religionists, tribal indigenous and secular humanists—partnerships that enrich grassroots communities and address global issues. Inter-religion does not always mean “identity politics;” inter-religion also means identity affirmation. I have seen, with my own eyes and on a daily basis, peace among the faithful of all faiths. By harnessing the creative power of religious differences, impressive changes are being made in communities all over the world.

I read Time Magazine once a week, but every day, I read a sampling of emails from folks of the United Religions Initiative (URI), folks who number over a million people and who live in 102 countries. I am avalanched by people from more than 300 religions, 65 indigenous communities and over 100 spiritual and ethical expressions. All of them are making demonstrative, positive changes in society. Bill Gates’ friends have never heard of these folks, and Time Magazine has no idea that they exist. But they are real. And they are growing in numbers and in catalytic impact.

Bill Gates’ friends have never heard of these folks, and Time Magazine has no idea that they exist. But they are real.

IT’S ABOUT TIME for URI to step out of the shadows of modesty and command the attention of the world. The world desperately needs hope and needs to see that the cure for division is unity. The weary world could use genuine Good News.