Newspaper article The Chronicle (Toowoomba, Australia)

Our Differences Can Help Enrich Human Experience

Newspaper article The Chronicle (Toowoomba, Australia)

Our Differences Can Help Enrich Human Experience

Article excerpt

I AM in Melbourne at present, attending, along with a few thousand other people, an international conference -"The Parliament of the World's Religions".

There are people here from all over the world. And they represent at least 30 different religious groups.

What a diverse array of beliefs and perspectives, leading to stimulating ideas and constructive conversation.

The theme of the conference, the fourth of its kind since 1993, is "Making a World of Difference: Hearing each other, Healing our World".

Despite the differences in faith traditions, in religious practices, and cultural expectations, the wonderful thing is that each one of the people gathered here appears to be committed to contributing towards positive change in the world.

As someone commented: "We want to make a world out of our differences."

Most participants seem to believe that we can have an impact for good in the world, not despite our differences, but because of our differences.

It is these differences which enrich the human experience.

It is only half way through the six days of the conference, and I keep asking myself - how can I translate an experience like this to daily life in Toowoomba?

Take a look around this city of ours, even around your own neighbourhood.

How comfortable are we with difference?

How do we negotiate encounters with people from differing cultural backgrounds, or different faith experiences?

How effective are we in engaging in dialogue across the gaps created by different personal stances towards issues which affect us.

Remember back to the debates about the possible introduction of recycled water in Toowoomba.

Think about what happens when a family moves into the street, and we discover they are different from us - perhaps of different race, or culture, maybe a different family composition.

What do we tell our children about making friends with others in their class who we might perceive as "different"? …

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