Harmony Among Religions at the United Nations?

Katherine Marshall, Senior Fellow, Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs, Georgetown University , USAWorld Interfaith Harmony Week, like the International Day of Peace, offers us chances to engage people and institutions in the spirit of the United Nations, said Katherine Marshall to the General Assembly of the United Nations.

Transcript of address at the observance of World Interfaith Harmony Week at the UN General Assembly Hall on February 7, 2012. (Taken from a recording made by the United Nations.)

Harmony Among Religions at the United Nations?
Katherine Marshall
Senior Fellow, Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs, Georgetown University , USA

Interfaith harmony evokes our ideal of a peace that passes all understanding, a peace that is inspired by the mind, the heart, the soul, and the hands, working as partners in true harmony. Our interconnected world demands a deeply intelligent understanding of what partnerships involve. Partnership is about far more than contracts, targets, and comparative advantage. Achieving the Millennium Development Goals, applying our responsibility to protect, building systems that render justice to all citizens, fighting disease, and acting on climate change simply must engage a mosaic of partners, public and private, large and small, secular and religious. And that is our ferocious challenge.

Here today we highlight and celebrate the rich array of partners that are too often neglected – the worlds of faith. They, though, are strong allies of the United Nations across countless dimensions. Without them, important goals – among them reconciliation of bitter enemies and equality between men and women – simply cannot be achieved.

The riches include the gifts of the mind. The finest traditions of faith are grounded in deep love of learning, creative education, a constant quest for understanding, and insatiable curiosity. Education for all cannot succeed without this ancient and modern wisdom.

Partnerships built on zeal and ideals rarely work. They need smarts and constant learning. Justice and mercy, compassion and charity, caring and community are the gifts of the heart, and they call us to pay constant heed to the suffering and frustrated hopes of the poor among us. Without care, partnerships tend to be dry and hollow, but when they draw on the reserves and resources of communities, they can achieve what seems unachievable.

The Fez Festival of Global Sacred Music has an inspirational theme of giving globalization a soul. This remarkable insight and event gives life to an important idea that spirituality is part of statistics, malaria campaigns, delivery of clean water and sanitation, building peace in countries shattered by war, and ending child labour. The spiritual and the material are inseparable.

And the hands, ideals, and declarations need to be implemented. Ther, too, faith communities bring vast resources, a capacity to mobilize the energies of millions, give purpose to programs, and sustain the alchemy of ideas.

World Interfaith Harmony Week, like the International Day of Peace, offers us chances to engage people and institutions in the spirit of the United Nations. It’s a way to give life to the noble aspirations on which the UN was founded and the living ideal of true peace. Together, though, we need to convey three important messages: (1) that ending poverty and building peace are feasible and within our grasp; (2) the we truly believe that – that we believe in peace and an end to poverty; and (3) that we are determined to grasp the possibility. It’s about aspiration, inspiration, and application.

Katherine Marshall
Senior Fellow, Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs, Georgetown University , USA

Katherine Marshall is a Senior Fellow at the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs, and Visiting Professor in the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. She heads the World Faiths Development Dialogue, which bridges the worlds of development and religion. She focuses on teaching and research on wide ranging topics at the intersection of development and faith. She has worked for four decades on international development, with many years at the World Bank, focused on Africa, Latin America, and Asia. She speaks and publishes widely and is a blogger for the religion section of the Huffington Post. She sits on several non-profit boards, including the Opus Prize Foundation, the International Selection Committee for the Niwano Peace Prize, and AVINA Americas.

Katherine Marshall, Senior Fellow, Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs, Georgetown University , USA

Katherine Marshall is a Senior Fellow at the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs, and Visiting Professor in the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. She heads the World Faiths Development Dialogue, which bridges the worlds of development and religion.

Source: United Nations (Supplied Transcript)

Photo Credit: UN Multimedia