by Eric Olsen
Seven young faith practitioners representing Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Jainism, and Sikhism discussed the ideals and contributions of their respective faiths to promoting peace at a one-day “Global Peace Forum on Youth Leadership for Social Cohesion and Peacebuilding” on August 6, 2022, in New Delhi.
Organized by Global Peace Foundation India as part of its Facets of Faith program, the forum focused on empowering youth, promoting interfaith collaboration, and developing moral and innovative leadership among attendees. The forum's objectives were to encourage and inspire youth to be peacebuilders, reduce identity-based conflict, minimize social barriers of religion, race, and culture, and celebrate unity in diversity.
Panelists stressed how reverence for life, earth ecology, non-harming, and peace and purity within the mind as the starting point for peace in society are key to the faith traditions of India.
More than 50 participants from twenty academic institutions were recognized as Youth Peace Delegates at the forum. Global Peace Foundation India also recognized the best Youth Peace Club in the country with the Peacebuilders Award for its constant efforts in peacebuilding and community service. Retired General P.K. Sehgal, invited as the chief guest of the forum, described the importance of peace over war and his lifelong effort to achieve it.
During an open discussion on the theme “Faith in Action: Role of Youth in Peacebuilding,” the intrinsic peace values in prayer of nine mainstream faith practices of India, including, Baha'i, Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Jainism, Judaism, Sikhism, and Zoroastrianism, were explored. Case studies on conflict were also provided to develop problem-solving and conflict-resolution abilities. And a booklet, “Prayers of Peace: An Approach towards Social Cohesion,” was introduced to participants.
Panelists found common ground among the faith traditions, as Buddhist Nivita Arora stressed the underlying “web of connectedness” in the quest for happiness, while “values like compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience,” said Percival Holt, are important in Christianity.
The Quran, the Hadith, and the Islamic sources highlighted Islam's role in peacebuilding and for forging concord and settling all sorts of disputes amicably, explained panelist S.M.Mukarram Jahan.
Other speakers stressed how reverence for life, earth ecology, non-harming, and peace and purity within the mind as the starting point for peace in society are key to the faith traditions of India.
Global Peace Foundation India is putting significant efforts toward peacebuilding and promoting social cohesion and harmony. Facets of Faith was launched in 2017 and seeks to draw on India’s rich spiritual heritage as a resource for peace. It aims to create impact by engaging faith leaders, learning the realities and challenges of different communities, and gaining the insights of scholars and organizations to promote social development.
For more information on GPF India’s peacebuilding and interfaith initiatives, visit India | Global Peace Foundation.