November 2019 Inter-Belief Conversation Café
How Can Different Worldviews Live in Peace?
7 p.m. – 9 p.m.
Interfaith Action of Greater Saint Paul
1671 Summit Avenue, Saint Paul, MN 55105 (View Map)
Exasperated moms chide their children, “How can the nations of the world live in peace if you kids can’t stop arguing?” With ongoing Middle East conflict and polarized U.S. opinion, are we too a dysfunctional global family? If peace in Ukraine and Northern Ireland depends on our belief in Russia’s U.S. and Brexit propaganda, how fragile is any respite from sectarian strife? Can peace be more than an illusion when everyone thinks they’re the ones in the right? Is any common ground doomed to sink under tidal waves of partisanship? If even families can be war zones, how much can “Agree to disagree?” work as a worldwide peace plan?
Our ideologies on gender, race, culture, religion, commerce, and politics are as fractious as ever. Do we live chained in separate caves with the shadows of FOX or MSNBC being projected on our respective walls? As Thanksgiving approaches for family members divided over Trump, will affection overcome worldview? Can any house divided against itself stand? Is what we think more important than what we feel, and can they be disentangled? Is a respectful conversation possible about things other than local sports and weather?
What happens when our worldviews spark deadly conflicts? We see persecution, indoctrination, imprisonment, and DNA tracking of Uyghur Muslims in China. Sunnis, Shi’as, ISIS, Kurds, Turks, and others fight in the Middle East. White Nationalism and Isolationism rekindles in the US and Europe. Russia invades Ukraine — twice. Hundreds of thousands die in Rwanda and former Yugoslavia over ethnic differences. All these peoples once lived side-by-side, before triggering events. If these disasters are possible in modern times, what is the solution? Or IS there no solution?
Do we have to accommodate every worldview? Human sacrifice is no longer acceptable. In the U.S., enslavement and polygamy are now banned with the approval of the Supreme Court. But we and other countries still effectively make certain beliefs, opinions, or identities dangerous to have. Are we saying we’re open to any idea except the ones on our “bad list”? What if we change our minds? Same-sex marriage was once presumed absurd, but now is protected as constitutional. Is tolerance a fad, or mature reflection? Are we expected to listen to worldviews we see as morally repugnant? Should we be asked to accept people we consider inherently vile? Is the moral universe black & white, or 50 shades of grey?
Is there a blueprint to construct permanent peace and concord? Is it buried somewhere in our ancient codes of ethics, religious edicts, wise sayings, parables, and common laws? Or is the perfect moral interface yet to be drafted? Can “Love thy neighbor…” or “Do unto others…” or “There shall be no compulsion in religion…” or “To each according to his need…” be twisted into something dark? Are our worldviews the problem, or is it something more fundamental to being human? Through what path other than our worldviews can we all just get along?
On Monday, November 18 from 7-9 PM at Interfaith Action of Greater St. Paul, 1671 Summit Avenue, St. Paul, Inter-belief Conversation Café will try to bring peace and amity, or at least détente and a ceasefire, to living together in difference. Our reasoning interbelief dialogue’s agreements of open-mindedness, acceptance, curiosity, discovery, sincerity, brevity, and confidentiality may be inherently designed to promote this process, but will they be enough? If not, at least those of every worldview are entitled to share the treats!