Do you know who I am?

The song “Turn the World Around” by Harry Belafonte could serve as an anthem for interfaith relations. The words go:

We come from the fire, living in the fire,
Go back to the fire, turn the world around.
We come from the water, living in the water,
Go back to the water, turn the world around.
We come from the mountain, living on the mountain,
Go back to the mountain, turn the world around.

Fire, water, mountain: these are images of the sacred in our varied traditions. Out of these realities our spirits are born, and we return time and time again to the illuminating fire, the renewing water, and the sacred mountain space to renew our vision and identity.The song does not stop there. It continues with these significant questions:

Do you know who I am?
Do I know who you are?
See we one another clearly?
Do we know who we are?

These are the challenges of interfaith encounters– to know myself and my own tradition; to be open to understanding the other person and his or her tradition, and, ultimately, how our respective identities are intertwined and shaped by our relationship with each other.

Whoh, hoh! So is life!Ha! Ha! So is life!

So is life. And together, we can turn the world around.

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