Arun Gandhi Joins Council for Parliament of World Religions

Parliament of World Religions tributes Mandela

I was recently elected to the Board of Trustees of the Council for a Parliament of the World Religions, so as I began to gather some words of support and urgency for this new appointment and the work of the Council, I was informed of the passing of ‘Madiba,’ South Africa’s great humanitarian leader. Hopefully I can coherently combine my diverse thoughts at this auspicious time.

We exist today in a world of difference. Yet, we are more interdependent than at any previous time in history. Nowhere is striving to live peacefully with our differences more critical than religion. My grandfather once famously commented to the effect: I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”

Quite often, religion is misused as an agency for strive and injustice, nullifying the very foundations that rest at the core of each of the world’s great spiritual traditions. At the same time, spiritual and religious traditions affect the lives of much if not most of the planet’s population in deep and profound ways. When the diverse religious paths work together for the common welfare, hope springs eternal that our world can be ultimately transformed. This is the goal of a ‘Parliament of World Religions.’ 

1893 Parliament of World ReligionsFirst Meeting of a Parliament of World Religions

There have been several meetings referred to as a Parliament of World Religions, the first being the World’s Parliament of Religions  of 1893, which was an attempt to create a global dialogue of faiths. The event was celebrated by another conference on its centenary in 1993. This led to a new series of conferences under the official title “Parliament of the World’s Religions

The 1893 Chicago Parliament of  World Religions opened the door for the first inter-religious reconciliation movement and that event brought together thousands of people from all over the world. It marked a pivotal moment for many different religions and spiritual communities from the east and west coming together around a common commitment to justice and peace.

The legacy of that 1893 Parliament of Religions failed, however, to live up to the highest ideals of its planners. The lofty goal of a new era of universal spiritual brotherhood shortly yielded to a hellish reality of 20th century wars and outright genocide.

Over the years, the Council has sparked renewed communication and relationship among the religious and spiritually diversified.  And in so doing the Council has maintained a model for reconciling diverse visions of a fair, tranquil and imperishable future. In that course, religious and spiritual communities have re-discovered their commonality to right and golden rule precepts. 

Abdul 
Malik
 Mujahid Parliament of World Religions

Imam Dr. Abdul 
Malik
 Mujahid

“The 
Parliament 
of 
World
 Religions 
is
 in
 essence 
a
 big 
conversation,” says our current Council Chair, Imam Dr. Abdul 
Malik
 Mujahid:

“Climate 
change, 
hunger, 
and 
peace 
are 
issues 
which
 concern 
all 
of 
humanity.
 
These challenges 
are
 also
 large 
enough and require 
focused
 attention 
from 
all 
religions 
and



 spiritual 
traditions. 

Dialogue 
is 
crucial 
for 
the 
tremendous changes needed 
for 
humanity to 
move 
forward, 
especially 
today, 
where
 conflict 
and
 war have
 become
 a 
lifestyle 
for 
millions
 around 
the 
world. 

We 
cannot
 promise
 that
 we will
 resolve 
all 
of 
the 
conflicts. 

But 
we
 do 
believe 
that 
dialogue 
will 
reduce 
the chance 
of 
warfare 
and 
increase 
the
possibility 
of 
reconciliation.

“
It 
was 
a 
series 
of dialogues 
which 
Nelson 
Mandela 
started
 with 
his
 captors
 at 
Robben 
Island 
that convinced
 them 
of
 a 
brighter, 
apartheid‐free 
future 
for 
both 
whites 
and 
blacks 
in South 
Africa.”

One of the more celebrated delegates of that first 1893 Parliament of World Religions gathering in Chicago, representing both India and Hinduism, was the great sage Vedantist, Swami Vivekananda, who closed his opening address to the historic group with words as timely today as when he first uttered them over a century ago:

Vivekananda At The 
Parliament 
of 
World
 Religions “Sectarianism, bigotry, and its horrible descendant, fanaticism, have long possessed this beautiful earth. They have filled the earth with violence, drenched it often with human blood, destroyed civilization, and sent whole nations to despair. Had it not been for these horrible demons, human society would be far more advanced than it is now. But their time is come; and I fervently hope that the bell that tolled this morning in honor of this convention may be the death-knell of all fanaticism, of all persecutions with the sword or with the pen, and of all uncharitable feelings between persons wending their way to the same goal.”

Again Dr. Malik Mujahid, in his tribute last week to Madiba Mandela’s passing:

In today’s world, where hate is rising, the people of love and humanity, those of faith and the “nones”, need to rise as a force for positive human relationships. In a world where one-third of humanity is obese while another third sleeps hungry, let’s share more and consume less.

Let us remember together as we mourn together, that “None of you has faith until you love for your neighbor what you love for yourself.” Long Live Madiba!

Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital
… a legacy of hope for the children of Africa

Graca Machel with Nelson Mandela Childrens Hospital

Nelson Mandela and Graca Machel

Today marks the 95th birthday of South Africa president Nelson Mandela.  Among his many achievements, Mandela showed the world the power of forgiveness and compassion, taking Mohandas K. Gandhi’s philosophy of nonviolence up another notch.  His desire to make this world a better and more peaceful place for future generations must inspire all of us to do whatever we can to make this dream a reality.  

On his 95th birthday today let us pledge to ensure that 450 million children of Africa can be ensured healthcare when they need it.  Africa needs a caring, compassionate world.  Can we step up to the challenge?

I have been honored by an invitation from former South Africa First Lady Mrs. Graca Machel to lend my support to Nelson Mandela’s final and perhaps most desired legacy, better health and medical care for the children of Africa: Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital, Johannesburg South Africa.

Please lend a hand and help us spread this message of hope. Be sure to use the #LegacyofHope hash-tag in your tweets and Facebook posts today!

Media and fundraising organized in part by Ms. Jennifer Trubenbach’s Orange County California-based Operation of Hope, the renowned traveling voluntary child surgical mission, and Eric Gast’s FM World Charities, the Legacy of Hope initiative will hold concert fundraisers on two continents to support the construction of the Nelson Mandela Childrens Hospital, honoring Mr. Nelson Mandela’s lifelong commitment to children.  

Sibongile Mkhabela, CEO, Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital Trust said,  “With 450 million children in Africa and only three dedicated children’s hospitals, the need for this specialized facility in southern Africa is paramount. We are excited that FM World Charities and Operation of Hope are sharing in our efforts to make this hospital a reality. Music and children are always a perfect fit.

The launch of the “Legacy of Hope” in North America will be at a private event on July 18, 2013 at New York’s Gotham Hall marks the 95th birthday of Mr. Mandela as well as the start of Legacy of Hope’s journey towards global concerts on two continents on December 7, 2013.

proposed Nelson Mandela Childrens Hospital

In Mandela’s words, the hospital will be a “… credible demonstration of the commitment of African leaders to place the rights of children at the forefront.” No child will be turned away due to inability to pay.

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