Sr.Sandra G. Clemente, RSCJ
Shakuntala M. Vaswani
URI SEAsia-Pacific Regional Office & The Peacemakers' Circle
Rev. Charles P. Gibbs
Dr. Shakun Vaswani
Ms. Marites Africa
Ms. Belinda Espiritu
Mr. Ludwig Bon Quirog
Mr. Orlan de Guzman, Jr
Mr. Abel Moya
Ms. Jessiee Kaur-Singh
Ms. Sharon Vaswani
More and more colors filled the hall. They were colors of diversity. Dressed in street clothes, school uniforms, habits, hijabs, orange and white robes, kimonos, ethnic beads, batik, turbans and what not— they were representatives, members, peace advocates, religious and lay, teachers, and a big number of youths and students coming from different faith groups, schools, NGO’s, and spiritual organizations who came to join the URI Southeast Asia-Pacific Regional Office, The Peacemakers’ Circle Foundation, Inc. (PCFI) and the interfaith community in celebrating the International Day of Peace 2007 with “SACRED SONGS OF PEACE” on September 21, 2007 at the Miriam College Environmental Studies Institute in Quezon City, Metro Manila... (to read full article click here: http://uriseapnewsletter.blogspot.com/2008/01/peacemakers-circle-cc-in-manila.html)
All over the world, we celebrate September 21 as the International Day of Peace— a day when everyone supposedly promotes and becomes more aware of PEACE. But what have we seen in the weeks after that date this year?
- Buddhist monks from Burma were gunned down, hundreds died while protesting in the streets…
- Pakistan government declared a state of emergency
- In other parts of the world, bombings, and killings here and there occurred everyday as if it is just an ordinary happening.
After watching news on TV, reading the daily newspaper, and witnessing all these violence happening all over the world, one reaches a point of saturation-- a feeling of numbness. Sometimes we loose touch, we loose our drive to respond or protest, or to just even care about the situation. We just go on with our daily routines, as if nothing has happened.
Just looking at this phenomenon, I am very alarmed, especially for our youth who had been exposed to the situations today - whether seeing the events in the world or themselves experiencing violence as a part of life within the very confines of their homes. One could wonder if there’s still HOPE for the next generation. Will it still be possible to live in a peaceful and wonderful world tomorrow?
While the bleakness of the future may seem evident, a shift in perspective may reveal the other side of reality-- that there are more and more people all over the world, both young and old, who are striving to promote PEACE!
I do believe and have seen this reality all over the world – starting with our URI CC’s which slowly and quietly work for PEACE in the grassroots level.
Here in our region in the Southeast Asia and the Pacific, promising initiatives and projects of CCs enkindle the flame of Hope for Peace. Stories from Australia and from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao Islands of the Philippines resound celebrations of peacebuilding work through interfaith gatherings.
Locally, in my part of the region—Cebu-- the mayor has consulted with the different sectors of society to envision plans for the city. This involved the faith-based organizations who are coming together as a promising force in realizing interfaith cooperation and peace work in the city. Meanwhile, three youth groups are being nurtured as potential youth CCs in the region.
As reiterated in during our Global face to face meeting in Belgium-- the VISION for our region for the next 2008 and beyond is set for the youth. The light of hope shimmers in them as we look forward to strengthening and preparing them for new leadership in the global URI.
As we strive to keep the VISION of Peace burning, we draw inspiration from the seeds of hope who will be carrying on the torch and keep it aflame to shine through the very seemingly dark corners of our lives, communities, nations and the world!
Now, isn’t that a very good reason to celebrate Peace? Yes it is! And it’s all the more a very good reason to celebrate peace not only on September 21-- but everyday of our lives! Let each day be a day of PEACE!
Sr. Sandra G. Clemente, RSCJ
Towards Interfaith Solidarity and a Better Society (REFLECTIONS from a three-week sojourn in Turkey)
My three-week sojourn in this beautiful land with my husband in February of this year had a two-fold purpose: to go on a spiritual journey and to pursue our respective academic interests, that is, to engage in intercultural communication and the study of Turkish culture and communication behavior and to delve into Islamic spirituality and philosophy.
From Islamophobia to Islamophilia
Some insights towards inter-religious solidarity and a better society
In our society, we need to bring back an appreciation of silence and contemplation in our lives.
We have neglected a sense of restraint and sobriety in our society. We need to bring back and cultivate a sense of modesty, moderation, gentle manners, and a sense of discipline in our daily conduct.
We need to emphasize Muslim-Christian unity at a time when some malevolent forces try to foment conflict between these two main religions in the world.
My trip to Turkey was made possible through the kindness of some very good and pious Muslims who treated us with great kindness, generosity, and hospitality. My immersion in Turkey enabled me to eat with many Muslim sisters, talk and share with them about different things, express love and affection for them through hugging and kissing, and even pray with them. These made me feel a sense of oneness with all Muslim brothers and sisters not just in Turkey but all over the world. By sharing this experience, I hope that we can better appreciate the need to see humanity as “one community, one body, one brotherhood” (Sezai, Jan./Feb. 2007, p. 13).
We need to foster sensitivity to the needs of the poor and the oppressed, and to work for social justice – even to the point of institutionalizing zakat or charity to the poor.
These insights and recollections from my three-week sojourn in Turkey, I hope, can provide inspiration for us to go on our goal of fostering inter-religious solidarity at the local and international levels and of building a more just, a more refined, and a more spiritual Philippine society.
*Belinda F. Espiritu is an assistant professor of English, Literature, and Humanities at the University of the Philippines Cebu College and is a Protestant Christian. She is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in Communication at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City. Send feedback and comments on this article to email@example.com
Meditation has been around for thousands of years. Evidence of the practice can be found throughout history in many different religions and many different places in the world.
Although Eastern religions embraced ritual meditation long ago, meditation itself does not have to be a religious or spiritual activity. In the past three decades, the practice has gained new popularity in the West for its physical, psychological and spiritual benefits. In our stressful, fast-paced society, an increasing number of people have found a need to adopt meditation into their lives.
The desired purpose of each meditation technique is to channel our awareness into a more positive direction by totally transforming one's state of mind. It is principally employed toward obtaining self-improvement and spiritual growth.
There are several types of meditation in Hinduism. These include (but are not limited to):
Christian traditions have various practices which might be identified as forms of "meditation." Many of these are monastic practices. Some types of prayer, such as the rosary and Adoration (focusing on the eucharist) in Catholicism or the hesychasm in Eastern Orthodoxy, may be compared to the form of Eastern meditation that focuses on an individual object.
Christian meditation is considered a form of prayer. Some Christian prayers are made primarily by using the intellect, through the contemplation of the divine mysteries. However, Christian prayer or meditation through the heart, as described in the Philkalia is a practice towards Theosis, which involves acquiring an inner stillness and ignoring the physical senses.
According to the Old Testament book of Joshua, a form of meditation is to meditate on scriptures. This is one of the reasons why bible verse memory is a practice among many evangelical Christians. "Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it, then you will be prosperous and successful." (Joshua 1:8)
The use of the word meditation in the western Christian tradition has referred generally to a more active practice of reflection on some particular theme such as "meditation on the sufferings of Christ”.
Meditation in Islam is the core of Muslim mystical traditions (in particular Sufism). Meditative quiescence is believed to have a quality of healing and creativity. Prophet Muhammad, whose deeds devout Muslims follow, spent long periods in meditation and contemplation. It was during one such period of meditation that he began to receive revelations of the Qur’an.
Sufism relies on a practice similar to Buddhist meditation, known as Muragaba or Tamarkoz which is taught in the Oveyssi-Shahmaghsoudi Sufi order. Tamarkoz is a Persian term that means ‘concentration,’ referring to the “concentration of abilities”. Consequently, the term concentration is synonymous to close attention, convergent, collection, compaction, and consolidation.
Muslims meditate during the second stage of Hajj at "Mount Mercy", from noon to sunset.
Similarly, there are indications throughout the Tanach (the Hebrew Bible) that meditation was central to the prophets. In the Old Testament, there are two Hebrew words for meditation: hāgâ which means to sigh or murmur, but also to meditate, and sîḥâ , which means to muse, or rehearse in one's mind.
In modern Jewish practice, one of the best known meditative practices is called hitbodedut (or hisbodedus is explained in Kabbalah and Hassidic philosophy). The word hisbodedut, which derives from the Hebrew word "boded", (a state of being alone) and said to be related to the sfirah of Binah (lit. book of understanding), means "the process of making oneself understand a concept well through analytical study".
Kabbalah is inherently a meditative field of study. Kabbalistic meditative practices construct a supernatural realm which the soul navigates through in order to achieve certain ends. One of the most well known types of meditation is Merkabah, from the root /R-K-B/ meaning "chariot"(of God).
Hindu wisdom, which inspires humans to live the ideals of compassion and nonviolence, is captured in one word, ahimsa. Very simply, ahimsa is abstaining from causing harm or injury. It is gentleness and non-injury, whether physical, mental or emotional, it goes much deeper to prohibit even subtle abuse and simple hurt.
Non-violence has long been central to the religious traditions of India. Religion in India has consistently upheld the sanctity of life whether human, animal or elemental. There developed early in India an unparalleled concern for harmony among different life forms, and this led to a common ethos based on non-injuriousness and a minimal consumption of natural resources, in other words to compassion and simplicity.
One of the most ancient Hindu scriptures, the Bhagavad Gita, is often mistaken as Divine sanction for violence. The Mahabrata (of which the Gita is a part) itself says,”Ahimsa is the highest dharma. It is the highest purification. It is also the highest truth from which all dharma proceeds.” What is Dharma? Hinduism describes dharma as the natural universal laws whose observance enables humans to be content and happy, and to save himself from degradation and suffering. Dharma is the moral law combined with spiritual discipline that guides one’s life.
Swami Sivananda Saraswati Maharaj says, “To be free from violence is the duty of every man. No thought of revenge, hatred or ill will should arise in our minds. Injuring others gives rise to hatred.”
From the Hindu perspective, to cultivate and achieve peace among religions is to first understand the role of religion. Religion is the relationship between the three fundamental principles – God, World and the Individual. Religion is not a denial of life but it is fullness of life. It consists of doing well to others, in the practical love, mercy, truthfulness and purity in all walks of life. We believe the fundamentals or essentials of all religions are the same. They are as old as the human race. There never has been, there never shall be, any real invention of discovery in the sphere of religion. Real religion is ONE. It is the religion of service, sacrifice and renunciation of wrong notion. It is the religion of goodness, kindness and tolerance.
The message of Hinduism to the modern world is the fundamental oneness of humanity; the spiritual unity of mankind through divine fellowship; universal love and brotherhood of man; the immanence of God; and religious tolerance; which makes for the universality of Hinduism. Truth and Love is neither Hindu nor Islamic, nor Buddhist nor Christian! Truth is ONE, homogenous, eternal substance. This is the UNIVERSAL RELIGION.
Every religion has an outer form or shell, and an inner essence or core. The outer shell consists of rites, rituals, ceremonies, beliefs, myths and doctrines. These vary from one religion to another. But there is an inner core common to all religions: the universal teachings of morality and charity, of a disciplined and pure mind full of love, compassion, good will and tolerance.
It is this common denominator that religious leaders ought to emphasize, and that religious adherents ought to practice. If proper importance is given to the essence of all religions and greater tolerance is shown for their superficial aspects, conflict can be eradicated.
An extraction from Atharva Veda:
“I ordain for you concord of heart, unanimity of and freedom from hatred in dealings with each other. Love one another in all ways.”
“Let your bodies and mind work together in harmony for the achievement of the common ideal (general welfare). It is for this that God the Protector of the Universe, has brought you together in life.”
Hinduism is neither asceticism nor illusionism, neither polytheism nor pantheism. It is a synthesis of all types of religious experiences. It is whole and complete view of life, characterized by wide toleration, deep humanity and free from fanaticism. Living a dharmic life adjusting to externals and non-essentials is the key in fostering peace among religions.
Many preach religion, but no one gives up desires and Himsa. Many preach, but no one practices love and forgiveness. Many preach, but no one recognizes the brotherhood of man. Many preach, but no one realizes the Divinity in all. Preaching has become the livelihood of men, while practice has become their object of scorn. Teach by being and learn by doing. Be Good and Do Good is the essence of all religions.
What is needed is proper understanding of the fundamental teachings of all religions and apply it in one’s daily life. Therefore, let everyone practice his/her own religion and realize among fellow human beings the real purpose of all religions.
Hari Om Tat Sat!
*Swami Guhabhaktananda is the President of Divine Life Society in Malaysia. He presented this article during the Peace Among Religions interfaith conference organized by InSaF URI KLCC on March 18, 2007 held at the Singghasana Hotel in Petaling Jaya, Malaysia.
TCC: What are your experiences in interfaith dialogue?
Ludwig: I've had quite a few experiences in the context of interfaith dialogue. My first official one was when I attended a VPAR (Visions of Peace Among Religions) workshop with Tita Marites Africa and Dr. Shakun Vaswani as our speakers; and then our subsequent youth interfaith meetings (up to such time when we were able to form the TULAY-CC and several times after). But then again, when I was very young, my dad would introduce me to some of his friends who were of different faith traditions. Most of whom were foreign and some (although not all) were missionaries. They would talk to us about their faiths and I would be sitting down with all ears while my mom & dad exchanged words with him/her. What I particularly liked about those conversations was the fact that they never tried to convert us; they told us about them so we'd be aware and so we'd understand not because they wanted us to transfer or anything. This happened around five times with different people and I was around each time not because they told me so but because I was curious and I wanted to be a part of what was going on.
TCC: What are teachings from your faith or some or your personal insights that inspire you to engage in interfaith dialogue?
TCC: How has the practice of interfaith dialogue enriched you?
TCC: What message would you like to convey to the readers about interfaith dialogue?
PEACEMAKERS’ CIRCLE CC in Manila celebrates UN IDP 2007 with SACRED SONGS OF PEACE (CC Report - Manila)
Another lively presentation was rendered by the Salesian Youth Movement of Don Bosco School (Catholic) who brought their whole band with full equipment. A dance number invoking Lord Ganesha, the deity of wisdom and remover of obstacles was then presented by the Hindu girls in their tradition classical dance costumes, while equally colorful in their kimonos and Japanese outfit were members of Shinji Shumei Kai who also offered chanting and a dance.
Another special group that performed was the Kulay-Wala band --composed of youths from the grassroots community of Brgy. Camarin—representing the GenPeace Youth Network. This was followed by an innovative step dance performed by youths from the Baha’i Faith national center, and a song number from Mr. Bob Guerrero of the Unitarian Universalist community of Manila. Finally, the Byakko Shinko Kai performed the Divinity-In (movement prayer/mudra), preceding the concluding ceremonies.
Through Shakun as URI SEAP regional coordinator and PCFI executive director Ms. Marites Africa (who hosted the whole program), the organizers heartfully thank all the participants, performers, volunteers and supporters, and all those who attended the event-- especially representatives from the JPICC-AMRSP (UN-IDP secretariat), Xaverian Missionaries, Miriam Center for Peace Education, Young Moro Professionals Network, Christian Peacemakers Team, Canossa School - Sta. Rosa, Roots of Learning School, PeaceTeach, Pax Christi. Thank you all for the beautiful and powerful stand for unity and peace!
Pakigdait, Inc. an interfaith grassroot peacebuilding civil society organization based in Iligan City and Lanao del Norte has gathered a number of significant personalities from the civil society, international volunteers organizations, and the press to celebrate International Peace Day.
The event marks the joint call for global peace by invited persons from various organizations that include: VSO Volunteers Charles Evans Muga (Kenya), Nicole Van Zurk (Netherlands), Zainab Waliullah (UK), Rogier Klaver (Netherlands), and Yvonne van Groenendaal (Netherlands); including from the Phillipine-based non-government organizations, such as: Regina Salvador-Antequisa, Executive Director of ECOWEB and secretary-general of CSOLNPPD, Jane G. Bernardo, chairperson of the Civil Society Organizations Forum for Peace (CSOFP), Musa M. Sanguila, Director, Pakigdait Inc., and Carino V. Antequisa, Country Accompanier of the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development (CAFOD-UK).
According to Musa Sanguila, this is the first time that the civil society through Pakigdait would celebrate International Peace Day that has already been celebrated worldwide for a number of years. “We are glad that in this part of Mindanao, we made the first step towards remembering that peace belongs not only to Mindanao but to the entire world.”
Pakigdait Programme Manager Abel Jose A Moya said that the celebration marks a “breakthrough in the consciousness of Mindanaoans to place in awareness the need to widen the horizons of peace, since we are not the only ones working for peace but people of different races from various parts of the globe.”
Christian speaker, Chris James had everyone in shock and hysterics as he juggled with a knife and apples, symbolizing his journey through evangelism and self righteousness… to an understanding of unity of the human race and presenting “love” to all who m he meets.
The Bulwagang Balagtas (Balagtas Hall) of the Ninoy Aquino Learning Resource Center at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) in Sta. Mesa, Manila can comfortably accommodate a crowd of around 600-800. But on August 22, 2007 the venue played host to over a thousand college students who attended the Visions of Peace Among Religions (VPAR) Seminar-Forum conducted by The Peacemakers’ Circle Foundation, Inc, (PCFI), organized by the National Service Training Program - Civic Welfare Training Service (NSTP-CWTS) Office of PUP.
Gathering a team of interfaith resource speakers, The Peacemakers’ Circle offered a program for the whole afternoon which consisted of interfaith prayers; introduction to the work of PCFI and the United Religions Initiative (URI); orientation to interfaith dialogue and peacebuilding; and presentations on Peace from the different faith perspectives. There was also a film viewing of URI’s DVD clip on Religiously Motivated Violence, and the 40-minute documentary, “In the Light of the Crescent Moon” which featured PCFI’s work on Muslim-Christian relationship-building in grassroots Metro Manila. An open forum followed the presentations.
The team, headed by its co-founder and VP/OIC Dr. Shakun Vaswani (who also shared on Hinduism), composed of Mr. Sam Salter (who represented Buddhism) from the Universal Wisdom Foundation; Mr. Alireza Kunting (on Islam); Ms. Tomomi Oida-Shima (on Shumei); and assisting staff, Mr. Orlan de Guzman, Jr. (who shared on Christianity).
By far the largest crowd addressed to by the PCFI team, it was a great privilege for the speakers as well as a welcome challenge to share in a limited time to as many young people their messages of hope, peace and oneness amidst these critical times. Special thanks to Prof. Avelina Bucao and the staff of PUP NSTP-CWTS for organizing the event!
VPAR FORUM IN MIRIAM COLLEGE
On September 19, 2007 The Peacemakers’ Circle gathered a team of speakers from the major faiths to present a Visions of Peace Among Religions (VPAR) seminar at the Miriam College in Quezon City, Metro Manila. This was organized by the Miriam Center for Peace Education (MCPE) as part of a Peace Education Program for 25 educators and peace advocates from all over Southeast Asia, namely: Thailand, Cambodia, Myanmar, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Philippines.
The Peacemakers' team composed of Ms. Marites Africa (Christian), Mr. Mon Rivera (Buddhist), Dr. Jo Kashim (Muslim), and Dr. Shakun Vaswani (Hindu)-- (see photo where they are joined by Dr. Loreta Castro of MCPE). Each of the speakers gave power point presentations on the theme, “Shared Values of the Major Religions in Southeast: Foundations for Peacebuilding,” followed by an open forum.
Atop a magnanimous hill, the workshop was blessed with wonderful bright sunny weather which created a very picturesque site indeed. We, the facilitators from various faith traditions began the day by welcoming everyone with a gesture of welcome from each of our faith traditions. Each participant was also given a bindi (dot on the forehead in between the eyebrows) for them to begin with a Hindu tradition, in experiencing the diversity of cultures around them. The dynamic ice breaker got the participants and facilitators acquainted with one another, sharing their experiences, hopes and dreams alike.
Of course, it was not just all fun and games. The representatives from each faith tradition presented on the fundamental teachings so as to enlighten the participants by sharing the basic tenets of their respective faith, its uniqueness, and its contribution to the world. Among the faiths represented were Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, Baha’i and Wicca. There was also a mini-exhibit/faith corner displaying symbols, pictures, and additional information where the delegates journeyed to and it was helpful in understanding and appreciating the different religions. Next, the Peacemakers’ Circle shared their lecture on the Visions of Peace Among Religions, centering on the similarities of each religion and how we could build an authentic world in accord with one another.
These talks were followed by a time of discussion where the groups then came up with a slogan which summarized their learnings and realizations of the day. By combining their wits and grit, they presented in a very creative manner the task at hand.
The day closed with a concluding ritual wherein each one wrote their personal prayer for peace and after the prayers were led from the different faith traditions, placed them together so as to signify weaving a peaceful world. We then all prayed to God, the Source of Peace so as to forge relations of peace in the world today.
Many new friendships across faith traditions, cultures, and also countries were forged. Precious and essential lessons were also learnt. Our fervent hope is that like these priceless memories of interaction and genuine love, we too will soar to greater heights and spread the culture of peace in the world, the peace that was meant to be.
(URI Hub report—Monday, 29 October 2007)
The process in which Cooperation Circles (CCs) around the Globe choose URI’s 2008-2011 Global Council will take place starting September 2007 until the elections in march 2008.The process will culminate during the Global Assembly in Mayapur, India, November 30—December 5,2008.
1) Nomination of the Candidates (September-October 2007)
2) Election of Trustees (November 2007-March 2008)
3) Installation of the New Global Council at the Global Assembly I Mayapur (December 2008)
If you are already planning an IDP observance, I urge you to think about new people you can reach out to and include. If you do not have an observance planned, I urge you to plan one. It can be as simple as having every member of your CC commit to a minute or an hour of prayerful, meditative focus on peace, beginning in your own hearts and extending out to encompass the whole Earth community.
I urge you to observe the IDP and to share your observance with URI’s global community. This will make your CC stronger. It will make URI’s global community stronger. And it will contribute in ways we can perhaps only sense to a global movement away from violence and division toward peace, justice and healing.
Herm expressed the primary purpose of these site visits through four guidelines that emerged from a deep conversation during our MI workshop this past March in Manila, Philippines:
We decided that, in keeping with the spirit of the Moral Imagination, we would switch to the “listening mode” and take in as much of the experiences of the people on the ground as we possibly could. I sensed that the best way that I could do that was to empty my mind of expectations and “be fully present in the moment.”
“Here is a plain statement to men, a guidance and instruction to those who fear God. So lose not heart, nor fall into despair: For ye must gain mastery if ye are true in Faith.” (16:96)
“Hold fast, all together, by the Rope which God (stretches out for you), and be not divided among yourselves; and remember with gratitude God’s favor on you; for ye were enemies and He joined your hearts in love, so that by His Grace, ye became brethren.” (3:103)
“Behold! In the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the alternation of night and day, - there are indeed Signs for men of understanding, - Men who celebrate the praises of God, standing, sitting, and lying down on their sides, and contemplate the (wonders of) creation in the heavens and the earth, (with the thought): “Our Lord! not for naught hast Thou created (all) this! Glory to Thee!” (3:190-191)
BALANCE / MODERATION
“Commit no excess: for God loveth not those given to excess.” (5:87)
“And the servants of (God) Most Gracious are those who… when they spend, are not extravagant and not niggardly, but hold a just (balance) between those (extremes)”. (25:63-67)
URI Statement on the Crisis in the Middle East
(Approved by the Standing Committee on behalf of the Global Council of
the United Religions Initiative)
As trustees of the Global Council of the United Religions Initiative, we write to urge an immediate and complete ceasefire of violence that is currently happening in the Middle East, and a commitment by all parties, including the international community and the world's religions, to find the will to complete, implement and invest in a comprehensive peace agreement that will allow current and future generations of Palestinians and Israelis to live their lives in peace.
We write as leaders of the URI, a global interfaith organization active in 70 countries, through the work of 400 member Cooperation Circles. URI's purpose is to promote enduring, daily interfaith cooperation, to end religiously motivated violence and to create cultures of peace, justice and healing for the Earth and all living beings. We have many members in the Middle East, including Palestinians, Israelis, Jordanians and Egyptians. The URI has consultative status at the UN through ECOSOC.
As leaders of an interfaith organization dedicated to resolving conflict without resorting to violence, we recognize and laud the heroic work of Palestinians, Israelis and peace advocates all over the world who are dedicated to rising above the violence and working for peace, justice and healing.
We believe that a new day is possible when a comprehensive, just peace will allow current and future generations of Palestinians and Israelis to live their lives in peace.
We call on all involved - Israelis and Palestinians, people of other nations, international bodies, religions, and grassroots groups working heroically for peace - to take the following steps to speed the dawning of that day:
* To stop the violence immediately.
* To supply immediate humanitarian aid to address urgent suffering and long-term aid to rebuild.
* To commit to negotiate, invest in and implement a comprehensive peace agreement that will allow current and future generations of Palestinians and Israelis to live their lives in peace.
* To invest in every means possible to weave a fabric of genuine, mutually honoring community among Palestinians and Israelis at the grassroots level.
* To invest less in armaments and more in social and economic infrastructure.
We commit to do all we are able, beginning with support for URI member Cooperation Circles in Israel and Palestine, and engaging our members around the world to help these steps be fulfilled.
And we commit to pray and meditate that violence will cease, peace prevail and a life of hope be restored to the long-suffering people of this region.
URI Global Youth CC Statement on the current situation in Gaza.
As a youth network we sympathise with our fellows, the young people who are caught up in the crisis, in both Gaza and in the Israeli communities that live in fear of rocket attacks. Young people are the future of any community and we feel that they should not have to live amidst a cycle of violence and hardship. In order for young people to make meaningful and healthy contributions to society, it is imperative that they grow and develop within a space of security and integrity.
We are also concerned about those who are vulnerable in these times, such as the elderly and the sick. They need access to medical resources and clean, safe environments. In times of crisis these people suffer the most because basic facilities are less accessible.
They also need to live without the fear created by constant attacks. This situation is robbing people on both sides of basic human rights that are theirs by international law.
We implore both sides to pursue the path of peace and reconciliation and reduce hostilities so that aid and supplies can reach the people of Gaza to alleviate their suffering and so the Israeli people can live without fear. It is our hope that both sides can cooperate in order to achieve a lasting peace and quality of life for all people. Our goal, as members of a global interfaith community, is to achieve this all over the world.