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Another path to peace

Discussion in 'Spiritual Articles' started by Archived_Member16, Jan 14, 2007.

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    source: Another path to peace - Newsday.com

    Another path to peace


    Interviewed by Newsday editor Jim Smith.
    January 14, 2007

    The country is debating troop levels and logistics in the war in Iraq. But Rajinderjit K. Singh offers a different way to think about achieving peace. The retired Locust Valley teacher co-founded the Long Island Multi-Faith Forum in 1993 and the East and West Association of Sikh Women in 2001, both dedicated to fostering harmony. Now, at 72, she represents North America on the board of the World Council of Religions for Peace. She was interviewed by Newsday editor Jim Smith.

    Why is peace your issue?

    I was hurt by war as a child, when my family fled east from Rawalpindi (then in India, now in Pakistan), so I have an emotional connection to people who suffer insecurity from violence.

    What would you like to see?

    Peace in every heart, peace in the whole world.

    How would you know there was world peace?

    When there are no wars, and every human being has the basic necessities.

    Isn't the world less peaceful than ever?

    There are fewer people being killed than during the world wars. I think we're moving in the right direction.

    But aren't religious rivalries driving most of the world's violence?

    Religious violence is a negative force. There is a positive force we need to create. More and more people are joining the interfaith movement, meeting and exchanging ideas. More and more people are meditating. Meditating gives you peace inside; understanding gives you peace outside. As understanding and togetherness increase, it will bring peace.

    People meditating never have stopped a war.

    That's true, but there are more people on Earth meditating, and that will make a difference. The interfaith movement gives me hope because people are talking to each other, trying to really know each other. People are finding out that the other's not that bad.

    We can't give up. I can see the whole world becoming one. In the Multi-Faith Forum, we visit thousands of people in high schools and middle schools every year; I can feel a difference over the last 10, 12 years - how open the students have become to trying things from different cultures. The kids are open to asking questions; they're not afraid, because they are reading. They come with deep questions.

    How else have you worked for peace?

    In the Locust Valley school district I helped raise money for people in Africa and sent it through CARE. It started in my class and spread throughout the school. I've also done education projects in my temple. I worship in Glen Cove and Plainview. We've invited people [of other faiths] to let them know who we are, have a meal together. We've invited non-Sikh children and tried to sensitize them about the head-wrap, the patka, that males wear.

    How did the Multi-Faith Forum come about?

    The LI Council of Churches received a grant for a pilot program. The idea stemmed from an interfaith meeting. Then, we all visited each other's places of worship. We made a logo with 12 branches - 12 symbols of different religions. We created a 24- member board and got hundreds of volunteers [to run education programs]. I've been a board member ever since. We created a program called 'Building Bridges.' We do it at fairs, schools, banks ... we've talked to hospital employees, IRS employees. We send panelists representing three or four religions. They talk about their religions, and people see that all religions have common rules and ethics.

    How were you named to the board of the World Council of Religions?

    I attended two days of meetings and a four-day conference in Kyoto, Japan, with about 1,000 men, women and children. People from my religion nominated me. I think it was God's gift. All my life I felt that God puts me where he wants me. They called me to come to the stage, and I couldn't find my shoes. It was a big surprise.

    How many speaking engagements do you do?

    I was involved in 11 programs in October, seven in November and six in December in schools, my temple, New York City and on Long Island. My message is: Peace is achievable if we use education. But if you're hungry, you're not peaceful. And you need to be free from disease. ... We can't have people saying, 'My religion is better than yours.' They need to say, 'I'm OK in my religion, you're OK in yours, and we're all OK in this world if we respect each other.'"

    Copyright 2007 Newsday Inc.


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