Lynn Willis, LEAD’s Spiritual Guide, attended the 2018 Parliament of the World’s Religions in Toronto November 1-7. She will be sharing her experiences and reflections in a series of newsletter articles.

125 years in the making

10,000 people in attendance

220 faiths represented

1st city in the world for diversity (Toronto)

3 major topics – Indigenous People, The Dignity of Women, and Caring for Earth

You might be excused for thinking that when many religious people are gathered to speak about important and difficult subjects, they would be dour and officious and hard.

What I found, instead, was spontaneous dance. Enthusiastic singing. Hugs galore. And laughter everywhere.

This was a group of people who were the best representatives of their religious traditions.

The Sikh people of Toronto provided free blessed food (for all 10,000 people) every day for 7 days.

The Dances for Universal Peace people invited anyone to join the dance. Christians and Jews and Muslims and Hindus and Zoroastrians and Baha’i and Sikh all united in the dance.

And yes, there were the hard truths. The hard work. The hard realities.

Truth and reconciliation for Indigenous People who have been denied their songs and dances and cultures by colonializing nations.

A million missing women. Child brides.

An environmental crisis that calls for immediate action.

But what better place and what better people to bring the news that together we can make a difference.

A story was told of the whale who bragged about how big and powerful he was. All the birds swooped down and each took one drop of water until the whale was beached. Together we can make a big difference.

“At the conclusion of this Parliament, thousands of committed persons of faith and conscience will be further prepared to bring about the radical change that our world so desperately requires. That change, however, can only be actualized if people of faith and conscience dare to believe that a far-reaching commitment to inclusion has greater promise than inherited patterns of exclusion.

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Others in the Parliament of World’s Religions series:

First Impressions
Bible Stories and Domestic Violence
Child Bride
Climate Change
Physical Meets Worship