In my line work, I am fortunate enough to cross paths with great people that are doing important work all around the globe, from South Africa to Great Britain, Canada to India, Texas to Minneapolis, and beyond.
All the people I communicate with at this level are working actively towards social harmony. For one reason or another, they have realized that social harmony is the cornerstone of society. Instead of seeing it as something nice or pleasant, they see it as imperative, in the same category as food, roads, education, and healthcare.
Seeing the Shadow or Being Whipped
An ancient parable tells us that a wise horse moves when he sees the shadow of the whip, while a foolish horse needs to be whipped every step of the way. The people I work with have seen the shadow that social discord is creating.
Last summer, I facilitated a course with nearly three hundred people from over twenty countries. More than half of them attended the course because they recognized the signs of division and acrimony as potentially dangerous. All of them wanted to learn strategies to push against the forces of friction and work towards social harmony.
Sadly, many in the larger population refuse to see the shadows of the ‘whips’ that are being cast all around them. Like the foolish horse, they are waiting for the whip to crack on their backside before they move a muscle. By then it may be too late.
Harmony is Not a Utopian Ideal
As I see it, harmony is not an unattainable utopian ideal. People are living in harmony all around the globe, in communities both small and large. But with the increase in population and diversity, we have to do better. We have to make a commitment to harmony. It is the only humane way to reduce the likelihood of vitriol, violence, and war. Limitations of space and resources are real. We either learn to live together or suffer a slew of unpleasant consequences.
Discomfort Can Lead to Good Works
Betty Williams was moved by the death of three children in her community to do something in the name of peace in Northern Ireland. Her efforts eventually lead to a worldwide peace organization and the Nobel Peace Prize.
Mohandas K. Gandhi was moved to civil action when he was thrown out of a first-class train cabin in South Africa because he was Indian. His personal indignation sowed seeds that eventually toppled British rule in India.
Nelson Mandela transformed the pain of his long incarceration to create a rainbow nation in South Africa.
Thousands of lesser-known people have transmuted their discomfort and pain into actions for the social good.
In that context, I have a question for you: How uncomfortable do you need to become before you do something (i.e. is it enough for you to see the shadow of the whip or do you need be whipped every step of the way)?
Begin and Find Your Community
Not too long ago, I was alone in my discomfort, focused on all the acrimonious stuff that was happening in the world around me. I felt helpless, hopeless even. Finally, it became uncomfortable enough that I decided to do something about it. Now, I am engaging with all kinds of people, both in my community and around the world, who are committed to having a positive impact.
I am not working under the illusion that I can change the world on my own. Nevertheless, I have decided to put my best foot forward instead of sitting back in a state of apathy. In doing so, I have found others who are on the same path. I wonder. Are you one of them? If yes, join our mailing list so that we can stay in touch. Those who seek harmony need to work together.
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Our Vision and Primary Goals
We are an educational and social good interfaith organization. We provide people with access to strategies, methods, and ideas that promote social harmony and enable bridge-building across divides. We use the term interfaith broadly to mean 'a strong belief in someone or something' and focus on improving interrelations between people who have different worldviews. Our primary goals are to remind people of our shared humanity and to support new and ongoing efforts.
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©Harmony Interfaith Initiative
Registered in Hays County, Texas
Founded in 2018
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