By Helen Heath OAM, Interfaith Network of the City of Greater Dandenong development officer
From whatever your viewpoint, most people have found the past year of 2020 challenging and unsettling – to say the least.
Now with 2021 here, hopes are being revisited that this year will be a better year.
The Interfaith Network of the City of Greater Dandenong is the oldest established interfaith network within Australia and has been unique in the life of the City.
For more than 31 years the network has sought to bring hope with its dedicated efforts of working together for peace, harmony and understanding.
Faith and spiritual leaders of the major world faiths and their communities have cooperated together, knowing the building of important connections breaks down barriers.
Through friendship and knowing each other, the network is positioned to offer support, helping prevent the harm that all too quickly arises when a tragedy or crisis strike, often leading to hate speech, religious intolerance and racism.
Promoting respect and tolerance for the integrity of every person’s beliefs, cultures and traditions, people of all faiths – and none are enabled to live together in peace.
As times change, and we have certainly seen a lot of upheaval and change with the Covid-19 pandemic, so too do we – to new ways of thinking, creating, doing and being.
If we engage with understanding all the riches of different faiths and beliefs, the future is filled with hope and possibility.
This provides us with an opportunity to create things differently.
As a people of faith and prayer, the interfaith network seeks to hopefully nurture the seeds of peoples’ desire to live together with each other in peace and hope.
The network chooses to seek the things that bring us all together, respecting the things we differ on, and through education, works to prevent the damaging harm that tears us all apart if we do not travel this path.
May you be inspired and challenged by this vision where all of us work together to build the hope that creates a strong sense of belonging.
Through sharing beliefs and values that are vitally important for all faiths, spiritual traditions and communities, we build trust with each other enabling a hopeful peace – which, in the long term for our world, is more important than agreement.
In the words of songwriter John Lennon: “You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope someday you’ll join us. And the world will live as one”.