Yesterday was an inspirational day. I had the chance to sit down (via Zoom!) with Rev. Terry Kyllo and Aneelah Afzali, from Paths to Understanding for the most recent Lean In Olympia episode. We talked about this organization's mission, which is to "foster relationships of respect between wisdom communities." The statement goes on to say that they, "support and train wisdom communities in multi-faith peacemaking in their neighborhoods for the common good of our children, our planet and ourselves." Right on!
More specifically, they work to dismantle Islamophobia and curb the harmful effects of religious prejudice. But note the expansive language in the mission statement...."for the common good of our children, our planet and ourselves." Prejudice, religious bigotry, and racism diminish the lives of those persons who suffer the focus of such forces, for example Muslims suffering from Islamophobic acts. Yet this mission statement is expansive enough to name that those persons that embody religious bigotry and enact acts of Islamophobia also suffer. This is a pervasive insight of the world's wisdom traditions.....we are connected, and as it goes for you, it goes for me as well.
Yet we forget this basic wisdom. In the rush of consumerism and the marketed fear of scarcity, we forget. And relationships are the way back.
Paths to Understanding knows that real, human relationships change hearts. To meet a Muslim and hear their story, to share food with a Muslim, or even to pray shoulder to shoulder with a Muslim builds relationship. And while we might think of relationships as social affiliation, it is also an awareness of our interconnectedness at a spiritual level.
It is really difficult right now to do this kind of work, but it is good to remember and begin preparing for a time when we can regather and practice the essential skill of connecting. And as I concluded the interview yesterday I shared with Terry and Aneelah to support and partner with them in this beautiful work of helping to restore the insight of interconnection, one relationship at a time.
Program Manager for Interfaith Relations
Corey Passons, MDiv.
Interfaith Relations Program Manager
Meg Martin, MSW, CPC