A New World Is in Motion

parliament 2015

Last month I attended the Parliament of the World’s Religions in Salt Lake City, Utah. This event brings together people from all the world’s religions to collaborate around common goals such as alleviating poverty, world peace, justice, and stewardship of the planet. The first Parliament was held in Chicago in 1893. The next occurred 100 years later, again in Chicago, in 1993; followed by Cape Town, South Africa in 1999; Barcelona, Spain in 2004; and Melbourne, Australia in 2009.

The Parliament last month in Salt Lake City is the first one I attended after hearing what a great experience people had in Melbourne in 2009. Now, I too can share what a great experience it was to be with nearly 10,000 representatives from the world’s religions, all in one room, sharing common values, clapping together, laughing together, and at times lamenting together. The feeling of oneness and togetherness was palpable in the general sessions where all were gathered as well as in the smaller breakout sessions where 100 to several hundred participants met.

The beauty of all this for me was really the vision and the mental equivalent that were forever impressed upon my psyche, that also entered deep into my physical being, and that inspired me to see in an expanded way what is possible for us as humanity. While people have often been divided by religion over the course of history, at the Parliament people from different religions were not only tolerating one another, but proactively engaging with one another to put forth strategies and plans for how we can work together on issues of common interest.

To share one example here: climate change was a prominent topic of discussion. The call to action was for people of faith to lift their voices in support of the planet, our Mother Earth. Our voices are so powerful. In what ways can each of us speak up and speak out, so that the interests of large business are not the only ones being heard and having influence? And what concrete actions can we take in support of the planet? In Salt Lake City itself, the interfaith community is acting to put solar panels on houses of worship with the goal of hundreds of houses of worship all using solar panels as a source of energy.

In my own life, I have largely become paperless. While I still seem to receive much paper in the mail, I myself hardly generate anything in paper form. Through the use of technology I am able to read news, books, and reports all electronically, rather than in paper form. I have “apps” that allow me to sign, deliver, and store contracts without ever printing them. Where possible I receive all communication electronically.

There are so many daily choices we each make that can have a powerful impact on taking care of our environment, from buying organic, which keeps poisonous pesticides out of our ecosystem (and our bodies), to driving automobiles that use less fossil fuels and have lower emissions, to educating ourselves about the environmental footprint of products we use and activities we engage in.

Recently I have learned how much of a drain on our water supply livestock agriculture can be and how, by comparison, plant-based agriculture, in general, uses far less water. As a vegetarian myself, that was welcome news. While not everyone may be called to become a vegetarian, this knowledge allows us to make conscious choices regarding how much meat and dairy we consume.

While I’m sure that each person is called to do his or her part in different ways, we all make a difference. We are the eyes, the hands, and the instruments of the Divine, powerful beyond measure. My teachers over the years have taught me that if I see a problem, then it is mine to address it. No so-called problem in our world is without a solution, if we all recognize that we each are the answer. We are the ones who can create heaven here on earth. My experience at the Parliament reminded me of the many, many people who are doing just that.

Thank you for the part you are playing!

Enjoy the journey.

See Marianne Williamson’s talk at the 2015 Parliament of the World’s Religions in the video below.

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