Marilyn Nyborg: Inclusion — every day in every way
I have just returned from a very different world. For six days, we attended The World Parliament of World Religions in Toronto, Ontario.
Along with 10,000 people from all over the globe, we never felt crowded.
We swam though and saturated ourselves in a level of diversity unheard of in our world.
People of every color, belief, culture, and custom, many wearing their native attire. Kindness and love permeated the environment. While the two buildings we were in were enormous and totally confusing, there was always a helpful voice and hand nearby.
There were feminist Mormons, Pagans and witches, Methodists, Hindus, Zen Buddhists, Catholics, swamis, chiefs, from teepees and sacred fires to labyrinths to extraordinary films. Each day the Sikhs fed everyone for free. In different rooms we took off our shoes, and even had our heads wrapped in a head scarf.
In one heart wrenching enormous exhibit (Gendercide: gendap.org) we walked through a path of 11,000 colorful infant booties hanging from the ceiling. Each pair symbolizing 10,000 women and girls who are missing due to gendercide.
One film was on the extreme repression, murder and persecution of Bahai’s in Iran.
Awareness of the oppression and violence contrasted with the power of inclusion we experienced every day in every way with ceremonies, panels, dialogs, and completely inspiring moments and events that reignited our unity and connection as we all sang and danced, laughed and cried together.
Each morning’s 9 a.m. to noon plenary session in the main hall carried a different theme: women’s dignity, justice, climate action, faith and interfaith, indigenous peoples, understanding, and reconciliation. 10,000 of us gathered in the monstrous hall with huge screens, world-class musicians, and faith leaders and experts in various fields offered global perspectives on the issues we are all dealing with. I was not pulled to the one on climate action, but it was one of the deepest. I really felt gratitude for our Mother Earth and all she gives us. Feeling into the microscopic levels of complexity, communication and total dependence we have on her touched me again. The impact man has had in attacking her was overwhelming to me.
I loved the one with religious scholars like Karen Armstrong (my favorite) from England. She spoke of love, one of the major themes of the gathering. You don’t need to like someone to love them. (What a concept!) To love is to want the best for them. Armstrong is one of the brightest stars we have, who best explains the meaning of life. Knowledgeable in all religions and beliefs she speaks with great authority.
She said when Kings of the past, came to agreements they created contracts of love. Meaning, they would do no harm to one another, and would look out for each other even if it was not to their own best interest.
Along with a woman of color, a young Kenyan woman, a gentleman from India, a Muslim woman from Pakistan, an author on gender, myself and (Grass Valley local) Sushila Mertens held a panel on dismantling the patriarch. Power over versus power with. A great turnout.
This was the world we envision; this is the future we work toward. Differences were delicious, diversity like dessert, and commonality easily discovered. These events are held every five years, though this one only three years from the last.
The next one will likely be held in another country, and I do not expect to attend. But if there is any way you can, I highly suggest you do. They have scholarships and volunteer opportunities. Don’t let the word “religion” put you off. It was about shared values and respected differences we can and must build on.
I saw and felt hope for our future. 10,000 people held the Light and the intention for the world.
Let’s hold the vision though the current chaos.
Marilyn Nyborg lives in Grass Valley.
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