As the most powerful leaders in the world work to discover pathways to peace, the Interfaith Encounter Association in Jerusalem continues to help us discover how people are leading the way. I was taken by one of events they shared in their newsletter that was organized by the Jerusalem Municipality. In its simplicity, it is the children demonstrating that a new world vision begins with each of us valuing our good neighbors.
They held an exhibition at Jerusalem's City Hall plaza. The exhibition was called Buddy Bears, featuring 138 "Buddy Bears" representing as many bears as countries acknowledged by the United Nations.
As was written in a plaque describing the exhibition, "They stand peacefully hand-in-hand promoting tolerance and understanding between different nations and cultures." It was described as an enjoyable "trip around the globe" with a chance to view these "designer" bears from around the world. (Click on the picture to see a bigger view.)
I continue to be grateful for IEA's work in connecting with people around the world to help us all see the good that can be done. The work by the Jerusalem Municipality is a wonderful example. Dr. Stolov shared the story of the Interfaith Encounter Association (IEA) mission with me:
"Some years back, I joined with a group of long-time activists in interfaith dialogue to form the Interfaith Encounter Association. Each of us felt a compelling need to make interfaith dialogue a widely used tool for building harmonious inter-communal relations in the Holy Land and the Middle East. Our vision was to make interfaith dialogue a real social movement---one that would transform these relations of mutual ignorance at best---and violence at worst---into mutual understanding, respect and trust.
We started with a framework of inclusion from the start. Our Board was composed of two Jews, two Muslims, two Christians and two Druze. These inclusive qualities attracted many people very quickly. We were moved by the response that included thoughts signing up for our mailing list and thousands of people participating in hundreds of dialogue programs.
...After being involved in these interactive dialogues focused on building mutual understanding, respect and trust, I believe real peace is possible and that it is
much easier to achieve than one would think."
It it notable that the Interfaith Encounter Association has been acknowledged for their groundbreaking efforts in generating peace and acknowledging the peace that people are generating for themselves with their time, ingenuity, and hearts, including these IEA honors:
Women's Peace Initiative Award - 2007
INTR°A-PROJECT AWARD for the Complementation of Religions - 2007
Prize for Humanity by the Immortal Chaplains Foundation in the U.S. - 2006
IEA's courageous work, and the work of people, like those involved from the Jerusalem Municipality, is a compelling call to leaders around the world and to all of us. Peace begins with each of us and we need to teach it to our children looking to us for leadership.
"It may be long before the law of love will be recognized in internal affairs. The machineries of governments stand between and hide the hearts of one people from those of another." --- Mahatma Gandhi
As we move into a new year may we all stand for peace wherever we find ourselves in the world. It is by living by the law of love that our world will be transformed.
founder, president and CEO
Global Dialogue Center and
Leadership Solutions Companies
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