“The question is: given that is who we are, what are we going to do about it?” was the first question an Illinois pastor posed about religious diversity at an October 5 presentation.
Hannah Kardon spoke at Saint Mary’s University as part of Lasallian Peace Week lasting from Sunday, October 1 to Friday, October 6.
Currently, Kardon is a staff member of the Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC). It is an international nonprofit organization, based in Chicago, and started by Eboo Patel, an author and member of former President, Barack Obama’s inaugural Advisory Council on Faith-Based Neighborhood Partnerships.
With IFYC, Kardon promotes religious pluralism and encourages people from all faiths to start the conversation with one another about who they are and what they believe.
Kardon believes this is crucial for people today as, “We are in contact with each other at unprecedented rates.”
In her upbringing, Kardon said that faith was something she wasn’t connected with in the same way as her friends. But, in seeing her childhood friends express and share their religions with her, Kardon began to realize some fundamental things.
Things such as her friend wearing a Star of David necklace to school didn’t affect Kardon at all, but it did affect other classmates of different religions who mocked Kardon’s friend.
This moment led Kardon to see the world as not “just a place where we lived, but also a place where we hurt each other.”
After finding Christianity in her high school years, Kardon felt inspired to promote religious tolerance and standing in solidarity with those of other faiths. Kardon said it is at this point where interfaith leadership comes into play.
Kardon said interfaith leadership is a way for her and everyone else to create a dialogue with others of different faiths to discuss the fundamental differences between faiths without the fear of harming the relationship.
Given the state of interfaith relations today, Kardon said this dialogue is necessary to negate the common misconception portrayed by political forces. She said, “They paint a picture that war is the only way to go.”
Based on this misconception, Kardon suggested three ways to use interfaith dialogue to break down barriers between faiths and promote peace.
Before anything else, Kardon said there must be mutual respect for religious practices. So, people must learn about others’ religious practices and why they are valuable in that faith to start building common ground.
Then, Kardon said the mutual respect that was created must turn into real, engaged relationships. She said people must actually know things about each other beyond the realm of faith.
Once a relationship is established, Kardon said people must then move into action. Kardon said when people start taking “common actions for the common good” peace is allowed to grow and foster.
The final question Kardon left her audience was on the quality of the relationships they have in their own lives. She said “The big idea is: are your relationships real enough to make a difference?”