My wife Pamela was one of those attending the “Breaking Bread Together” event on September 21st. She was able to meet several new people and to learn about their religious traditions and commitments in new ways. She has been a member of the International Satsang Association for many years, a group dedicated to breaking down barriers between people and seeking “a planetary vision and a universal heart.”In reflecting on her experience with “Breaking Bread,” she observed that four things are essential in building interfaith relationships:
- Respect. We must be prepared to respect the other and to welcome them, whether we agree with them, understand them, or not. Without basic respect, there can be no ground for dialogue.
- Faith, not Fear. We must come to the encounter with an attitude of faith and trust. When we approach one another out of fear, we set up barriers and defenses that may never allow us truly to encounter the other.
- Opportunity. Sadly, it is unusual for people who differ– whether in religious tradition, social status, economic level, or education– to get together. We must take advantage of the opportunities that present themselves to reach out and put ourselves in the place where we can encounter others who are different.
- Persistence. Building relationships of trust and appreciation take time, energy and consistency over the long haul. True interfaith community does not happen in a single moment, but is developed as we continue to meet one another with respect, in faith, and at every opportunity.
The SouthBay Interfaith group that sponsored Breaking Bread Together plans to work together to offer more opportunities for people in the South Bay to encounter one another. To stay informed about upcoming interfaith events, check the calendar at Interfaith Space, sign up as an Interfaith Space Associate, or join the SouthBay Interfaith e-mail list.