Eboo Patel at Stanford

In his Baccalaureate address to the Stanford Graduating Class of 2010, Eboo Patel, founder of the Interfaith Youth Core, shared the story of Brother Wayne, one of those people “who live at a slight angle to the universe, who see the world through kaleidoscope eyes. Others in this line include historical figures from St Francis of Assisi to Shams of Tabriz, literary characters from Zorba the Greek to Don Quixote.”

Patel described how Brother Wayne and Stanford University figured significantly in his own decision to create a youth interfaith movement:

It occurred on this piece of earth twelve years ago, almost to the day. Brother Wayne sent me to an interfaith conference at Stanford University in June of 1998. “They are all very spiritual people,” he said of the senior religious leaders and theologians who gathered to draft documents and plan further conferences – “but they are spiritual and over sixty.” That was Brother Wayne’s way of articulating urgency. In his soft way he was saying: If religious extremism is a movement of young people taking action and interfaith cooperation continues to be a movement of older people talking, we lose.

And he challenged the graduates to be a little “crazy” in working to improve the world:

I think maybe I’ve become a little crazy myself. In fact, I’ve learned to iterate on craziness. Here’s my most recent one. Previous generations created new social norms. Civil rights is a social norm. Environmentalism is a social norm. Human rights is a social norm. All thanks to young people. Why can’t this generation make interfaith cooperation a social norm?

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