Salam peace shalom!
We thank God for the World Interfaith Harmony Week 2017 that have been done in the first two weeks of February. YIPC team went to Kuala Lumpur and Singapore from 1 to 11 February meeting and having dialogue with some students, some organizations, and visiting some religious communities. Under the theme of “Loving God and Loving Neighbor”, which have been promoted by A Common Word movement, YIPC was promoting love, tolerance, and respect to every human being regardless their beliefs or faiths. The practice religious tolerance and respect sometimes is not as easy as the concept, especially when religion is closely connected with power. Therefore to promote social and political pluralism in the midst of religious exclusivism is very important (Volf, 2015). Volf in Flourishing: Why We Need Religion in Globalized World, summarizes the argument for this concept of social/ political pluralism into four points:
- Because there is one God, all people are related to that one God on equal terms.
- The central command of that one God is to love neighbors – to treat others as we would like them to treat us, as expressed in the Golden Rule.
- We cannot claim any rights for ourselves and our group that we are not willing to give to others.
- Whether as a stance of the heart or as outward practice, religion cannot be coerced.
In the practice of political pluralism, personally I honor Singapore in how to manage its religious harmony in diversity. As practiced by many democratic states, Singapore also takes separation of religion and state. In Singapore religions and religious communities are respected equally, regardless majority and minority issue. Interestingly, in such a lively religious life in Singapore, there are 18% of Singaporeans do not identify themselves with any religious communities, and identify themselves as the humanist. This is exactly in line what noted by Volf in the fourth point: “whether as a stance of the heart or as outward practice, religion cannot be coerced”. Volf points out that faith is a free act, a coerced faith is not faith at all. This is a challenge for those who have strong believe in religion.
Other than learning from each other’s religious life, I believe the connections between the youth in the region can bring something great in the future, both in religious life as well as in other aspects of life. YIPC foresees that this international or regional network and connection has to be built in this globalized world that we believe religion become one of central issues. For that reason in 2017, YIPC also becomes part of two global network: United Network of Young Peacebuilder (www.unoy.org) and MasterPeace (www.masterpeace.org). In July 2017, God willing, YIPC will hold its second International Peace Camp. And for World Interfaith Harmony Week 2018 we hope we can work with the network in other countries. We hope more youth will be actively involved in religious peacebuilding in more countries all around the world. We do one step at the time, as God leads us. Salam peace shalom!