Our meetings bring together individuals from different backgrounds, faith traditions and worldviews. we do apply formal discipline, yet we encourage all participants to connect with their inner world and thereby experience the inter-relatedness and interdependence of all human beings and of all life in the world. In this way, we are can show and reflect on how spirituality and religion may have an impact on human values as well as our assumptions that underpin science, morality and economics.
In this A Narrative of Love conversation, Dr Vandana Shiva explores her perspectives on the notion of love, and the practices of love in ecology and democracy.
Dr Vandana Shiva is a most dynamic and provocative thinker, scientist and activist who has dedicated her life’s work to promoting biodiversity in agriculture and defending people’s equitable access to nature’s resources. In 1987, Dr Shiva founded ‘Navdanya’ to start saving seeds as an alternative to the corporations patenting genetically-engineered seeds and using the WTO to impose seed monopolies. As a thinker and public intellectual, Dr Shiva has contributed to non-violent, compassionate, cooperative systems of knowledge, production and consumption. Amongst her most influential books are “Staying Alive” “Earth Democracy”, “Soil not Oil”, and “Who Really Feeds the World?” Dr Shiva has received many awards, including the Right Livelihood Award in 1993, the Order of the Golden Ark, Global 500 Award of the UN, and Earth Day International Award. Time Magazine identified Dr Shiva as an environmental “hero” in 2003, and Asia Week has called her one of the five most powerful communicators of Asia. Dr Shiva serves on the boards of many organizations, including the World Future Council, the International Forum on Globalization, and Slow Food International.
She explores what it means to love and to be loving. For instance, she maintains: “Love holds the truth, love holds true liberation. … but we have been burdened with a fragmented worldview, … creating a vocabulary that actually dismissed love … and the very possibility of our being human.”
During Covid-19 pandemic, the world is plunged into perplexity. On a daily basis, the majority of people around the globe seem to experience some form of disorientation, be it economic uncertainty, social divisiveness, political turmoil, media manipulation, or ecological crisis. Whilst the sense of loss, the experience of alienation, and the feeling of hopelessness are spreading, the GHFP and partners, including the Spirit of Humanity Forum, the Fetzer Institute, have launched a project entitled A Narrative of Love. The project seeks to explore the power of love in practice that might invite humanity out of the current impasse.
On 15th October, GHFP’s Senior Fellow, Dr Scherto Gill, presented an Education Policy Brief at the G20 Interfaith Forum. She highlights the importance of exploring interfaith perspectives and interfaith organisations contribution to the global agendas, such as UN SDGs, the UN Convention on Climate Change, and so forth. Below is the transcript of her presentation.
Greetings to all. It is such a privilege for me to take part in this distinguished panel, and my sincere gratitude goes to the organisers for creating such an important spacue at the G20 Interfaith Forum for a most timely dialogue about education.
Let me begin by recalling the two aspirations that have brought us together:
One is this year’s G20 Presidency Agenda, which calls on G20 leaders to “empower people, pave the way for a better future for all.” Hence, the theme: Realizing Opportunities of the 21st Century for All.
The other is the raison-d’etre of the G20 Interfaith Forum. As already highlighted during the Opening Plenary, the Forum offers a platform where rich ideas, and values-based actions of the world’s religious, faith and interfaith communities contributing to the global agendas are heard and understood.
Indeed, under these aspirations, and in partnership with the Guerrand-Hermès Foundation for Peace, the G20 Interfaith Forum launched an Education Task Force, consisting of experts from major global organisations, such as the Aga Khan Global Network, Arigatou International, Dream a Dream India, Open Society Foundations, Global Centre for Pluralism, and Plan C: Culture and Cohesion.
I had the honour of facilitating the Task Force research that explored precisely the intersection between interfaith organisations and communities’ educational initiatives and the relevant UN SDGs especially 3, 4 and 5, namely promoting health and wellbeing, quality and equality of education.
The research brought to light that during the COVID-19 pandemic, interfaith organisations in many settings have been empowering local communities to close the gaps resulted from school closures, lack of public services due to lockdown, and isolation. They also provided practical support to address the acute social, emotional and spiritual needs of children and young people at this difficult time.
What else have the Task Force learned from the research in terms of the priorities in education policy that encourage inclusion and diversity? I will briefly mention three points which I believe are particularly innovative and pertinent to this panel’s dialogue:
First, from an interfaith perspective, educational inclusion is more than ensuring access to schooling. Many interfaith educational programmes conceive inclusion as, above all, the nurturing of the whole child, and supporting every child’s well-being in all dimensions of their development, physical, social-emotional, intellectual, moral, cultural, and spiritual.
Second, an interfaith perspective, especially through the lenses of love, compassion, respect, and humility, tends to advocate the view that human diversity is to be celebrated, and that the presence of difference in the educational environments can serve to enrich our pedagogical practices, and encourage educators to be more sensitive to the evolving well-being and learning needs of all students.
Third, an interfaith approach demonstrates that embracing inclusion and diversity must be an integral endeavour. That is to say that these must not be treated as isolated gestures, or add-ons. Instead, inclusion and diversity must be a whole system process where the empowerment of educators is a key.
Based on these insights, the G20 Interfaith Forum Education Task Force were able to develop an education Policy Brief for the consideration of G20 leaders, highlighting three policy priorities:
Advancing the Wellbeing of Every Child as the Core Aim of Education
Ensuring Active Participation of All in Inclusive Learning Environments
Aligning Teachers’ Professional Learning with a Wellbeing and Inclusion Focus
Illustrative practices within these policy priorities include, for instance, interfaith curriculum, interreligious literacy, relational pedagogy, democratic participation, actively engaging students at the margin, empowerment of girls, dialogic and collaborative learning, and connecting teaching and learning to students’ lived realities,
These interfaith perspectives also prompt us to realise that education already holds the ‘cure’ of the widespread social malaise. Hence it is not an exaggeration to propose that the ‘vaccine’ to end the hidden pandemic, i.e. the prevailing social inequality and injustice, that has plagued humanity for so long, is precisely to be found in our education system only if it is inclusive, human-centred, and caring, and only if it aims to nurture the well-being of all, and realise opportunities for all.
As John Dewey cautioned, unless we do so, we will rob our children of their tomorrow.
Understanding Peace Holistically: From the Spiritual to the Political
This GHFP book argues that spiritually rooted and morally oriented peacefulness is relevant to the socio-economic–political structures that provide the conditions for a culture of peace. As the authors build up a theory of peace from the spiritual to the relational and communal towards the socio-political, this book also identifies key principles that characterise international and institutional processes that nurture peace. The holistic conception of peace developed in this book may guide and inspire individuals, institutions, and international organisations with regards to how to make peace.
What are the pandemic’s major impact on religious and faith communities? How might religious leaders and their followers help embrace the challenges brought by the pandemic?
How might we reduce social tension stemming from religious factors at this unique time? How can we do to foster solidarity within and between different religious and faith communities and improve mental and physical well-being during the pandemic?
What religious, faith and spiritual practices could become part of the new normal in a post-COVID-19 world? What could be the part of religion, faith and spirituality in future of our society?
The event featured the following speakers:
Katherine Marshall, Senior Fellow, Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs, Georgetown University / Executive Director, World Faiths Development Dialogue
Hosted by IofCI’s Trustbuilding Program in partnership with the GHFP Research Institute, this international seminar offers a unique opportunity to meet, share and discuss the process of building trust.
At a time of increasing fragmentation, trust is diminishing around the world. Communities face racial, ethnic and religious divides, intergenerational conflict, and the rise of extremist attitudes, as well as social divisions and the legacy of war. The Seminar poses a critical question: “How can we address these challenges?”
Among the discussants will be Letlapa Mphahlele, commander of the Azanian People’s Liberation Army during apartheid times. His anger was such that he ordered retaliatory massacres of white civilians. After a radical transformation he now sees the whole of humanity as ‘my people’. Letlapa, who, until 2013, was President of the Pan Africanist Congress and a Member of the South African Parliament, is a protagonist in the award-winning film, Beyond Forgiving, which depicts a profound story of tragedy, forgiveness and hope.
This is by invitation-only event. For further information and interest to contribute, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Collective and community initiatives can empower those suffering from the wounds of a violent past to collaborate towards mutual healing, thus creating new possibilities for peace.
To better understand the significance of these community-rooted collective healing endeavours, the GHFP and the UNESCO Slave Route Project hosted a one-day International Symposium, at the Royal Society for the Arts in London.
The event brought together practitioners and scholars who have experiences and expertise in the field of communal and collective healing of mass traumas, for an intimate dialogue focused around three core questions:
What are the typical psychological and social symptoms encountered in communities resulting from the experience and legacies of past atrocities?
What might constitute collective healing in these situations?
How do community-based processes and practices contribute to collective healing? (And how would the community evaluate collective healing? What are the relevant indicators that some healing has taken place?)
What would it mean to be a creator of peace in your own life, family, community, country and world?
This year, the GHFP will be hosting two Women’s Peace Circles at our Brighton premises, in collaboration with Creators of Peace (CofP). We invite friends and colleagues (and those who are new to our work!) to join usduring the weekends of 20th-22nd March or 2nd-4th October 2020.
For nearly 30 years, Creators of Peace has been bringing together women across the globe, from all backgrounds, ages and cultures who seek empowerment, inspiration and hope in our current global contexts.
Come and participate, learn, discuss, grow, share stories and explore how you can be a creator of peace.
Colleagues from CofP facilitate a ‘talking circle’, where all voices are respectfully heard, establishing shared values which will allow the group to explore diverse perspectives on topics such as:
What is peace?
Circles of concern and hope
What builds and destroys peace?
Qualities and strategies of a peacemaker
Listening to others
The power of forgiveness
Putting peace into action
Friday: 6.30pm – 9.30pm: Peace Circle Session I (includes supper)
Saturday: 9.30am – 6.30pm: Peace Circle Session II (includes lunch)
Sunday: 9.30am – 3.30pm: Peace Circle Session III (includes lunch)
In 2015-2016, the GHFP and partners launched a three-part dialogue series in order to explore the nature of peace and how to apply this understanding in the process of creating a global culture of peacefulness.
The first dialogue was hosted by the GHFP in December 2015 in East Sussex, England. This dialogue was specifically concerned with building structural peace and took our innate peacefulness as a given. Therefore the focus was on the structures, systems and institutional cultures required to bring about a common political vision of peace as well as on identifying particular practices of peace and peacefulness which could lead to the transformation of individuals and communities internationally and globally.
The second dialogue, held at the Fetzer Institute in June 2016 in Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA, explored the nature of peacefulness from its spiritual dimension and consider the realities within a given local context, such as communities, that might support the practice of peacefulness. A distinct theme is transformation through a spiritual pathway and how it might inspire us to live our lives from the inside out in more peaceful ways and towards a global transition from separation and fear to interconnection, oneness and love.
The third dialogue took place in October 2016 in Reykjavik as part of the inaugural seminar of Reykjavik Centre for Peace and the celebration of 30th anniversary of Regan and Gorbachev meeting in Reykjavik. It sought to investigate features of peaceful governance and international policies of a peaceful state. Important questions, such as ‘How might we express the spiritual depths of peacefulness within a systemic context, such as a city or a nation?’ and ‘What are the criteria for a city or a nation and its institutions to be deservedly counted as peaceful?’ were posed in this dialogue to understand political processes, including the responsibilities of individuals, institutions and communities, that contribute to the collective intention of peace.