Managing Editor’s note: all Contributing Scholars begin writing by answering the following question as their first post: Why are you committed to building relationships with those from different religious or ethical traditions? Their answer to this question is below.
I believe that we must create relationships across religious and ethical traditions if we are ever to create peace. My primary orientation in life and meaning making is the religious prism. So this is where I can enter into relationship with others in the most authentic way. The work of developing genuine relationships across religious and ethical traditions is liberating and empowering for all involved.
The intellectual can learn theory and statistics that make logical sense of the need for greater understanding and relationship between all people and all religions. The academic can share that same knowledge through the written and spoken word. But it is relationship that holds the potential for transformation, and it is from this transformation that we will become wise.
It is the combination of this knowledge and wisdom that makes the highest love possible. This is the love that says, “I see you as a person. I understand that we have differences. I know that we share humanity.”
When we do not understand or possess knowledge we remain either ignorant or biased. Neither state is acceptable in today’s religious landscape. No one can know everything. In truth, the more we learn, the more we realize what we still have to learn. Therein lies the gift. By understanding that we do not know, we become aware, more conscience. We learn to make fewer assumptions. To ask questions. When we are biased we are perpetrators. We advance hurt. And like the journey of understanding, we may never know the extent of our prejudiced actions.
As a candidate for Unitarian Universalist ministry, I believe that integrating and living this kind of wisdom to the best of my ability is imperative. This requires continual learning. It is a journey for the rest of my life. A journey in which every steps matters even though I often will not know the fullest results. Jewish philosopher Martin Buber wrote, “All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware.” So, fellow travelers, let us get on the road and remain open to where it leads. As we walk the road, may we do so with as much integrity, curiosity and humility as is possible.