Vision of Peace
Peace is more than the absence of war.
Today, the world’s religions are beginning to discern an emergent multi-religious positive vision of Peace. Peace is central to each religion. Each religion knows and anticipates Peace to be a “positive” holistic state of personal and social flourishing that is far more than the absence of conflict. Words like “shalom, salaam and shanti are cyphers for these holistic “positive” religious visions.
So the question emerges, is there a shared multi-religious vision of Peace? The answer is “yes.” This is a vision that has continued to unfold across the decades in Religions for Peace. About every 5-7 years Religions for Peace convenes its World Assembly so that up to a thousand senior religious leaders from around the world can carefully discern shared elements of “positive “Peace and shared threats to Peace. “Common Healing” was the theme in 1994, making it clear that we are all linked in our needs for healing; “Common Living” was the theme in 1999, which focused on the critical role of the common good in all our societies; “Shared Security” was the theme of 2006, and it made clear that there are no walls high enough to separate us from the other’s insecurity, and then in 2013—as a genuine step forward—the Assembly refers to a shared multi-religious positive peace as a state of “Shared Well-Being.
Shared Well-Being includes a conviction that the call to develop is an inner summons that beckons every person to unfold his or her personal dignity across all dimensions—cultural, social, economic, political, emotional, intellectual, aesthetic, and religious. It is based on the understanding—common to religious traditions—that human beings find meaning in being and becoming, rather than simply having and accumulating.
As the same time, Shared Well-Being includes the conviction that the call to personal development is directly related to the obligation to build up the common good, which includes the natural world. We believe that human beings are oriented beyond selfish egoism toward solidarity, beyond conflict toward cooperation. We affirm that people find true meaning through caring relationships with others and that, ultimately, all are in varying ways responsible for all. Just as each is called to contribute to the common good, each is, in turn, to be supported by it. This profound reciprocity extends across time and must include concern to live in harmony with the environment.
Our traditions teach that a foundation of Shared Well-Being lies in this deep reciprocity between personal and communal development. This calls for the patient and resolute cultivation of both personal and social virtues. We believe that these personal and social virtues are foundational to the personal and social “capital” essential for human flourishing.
This positive reciprocity between the concrete flourishing of human dignity and the common good across generations also provides us with a framework to assess the relative adequacy of our cultural, political, economic and social systems. To the degree that these systems thwart or ignore this profound reciprocity, they will need to be reformed to make them better servants of a truly positive multi-religious vision of Peace.
Each of our religious communities has its own special religious resources for embracing the call to support the integral unfolding of human dignity and the building up of the common good. These include striving for justice, accepting self-sacrifice for the well-being of others, bearing innocent suffering for peace, returning good for evil, extending forgiveness and expressing universal compassion and love. These priceless spiritual virtues can powerfully build up the common good, particularly where it has been deeply wounded.
How We Do It
Religions for Peace recognizes that religious communities should be the main agents of multi-religious cooperation. Thus, Religions for Peace engages religious communities through their own representatives – leaders, outstanding persons, grassroots congregations and other organizational manifestations – in the work of building Religions for Peace affiliated structures on every level, local to global. A central feature of the Religions for Peace approach is its commitment to engage existing religious structures as the “building blocks” for multi-religious cooperation. This approach has great strength insofar as it can effectively and efficiently engage religious communities’ already existing strengths to build peace through the power of cooperation.