Faith groups emphasise need for peace and harmony – UN Inter-Faith Harmony Week officially launched
Guyana has joined the rest of the world in observance of the United Nations (UN) World Inter-Faith Harmony Week being held under the global theme “Love of the Good and Love of the Neighbour..”
The Inter-Religious Organisation of Guyana (IRO) in collaboration with the Government of Guyana today officially launched Inter-Faith Harmony Week at the National Cultural Centre, which is being celebrated locally under the theme “Fostering Social Cohesion in Guyana”.
Delivering the feature address, Minister of Public Telecommunications, Catherine Hughes said this year’s global theme is relevant since it incorporates persons of all faiths and even those who do not subscribe to a religious group.
World Inter-Faith Harmony Week, the Minister said is designed to allow all groups to become better aware of each other and the strengthening the movement by building on common ties and experiences.
To succeed, Minister Hughes said, “we must consider how we can foster greater inclusivity, beyond the rhetoric what are our most deeply held values and our greatest needs, what are our strongest points of connection, our common ground?”
Each advance in technology, the Public Telecommunications, posited, seems to require a corresponding leap into our collective maturity, ethical and moral expectations. She noted that these continue to be the foundations of a “just, equitable, secure society which is just hiding in plain sight”.
Guyanese have been able to chart a common course for daily co-existence that their differences are unrecognisable, the Minister expressed.
Minister Hughes added that working and living in harmony must be a ready, willing and spontaneous action, which forms part of every individual’s character.
This, she believes is for the common good of our spiritual and material well-being.
Meantime, Minister of Social Cohesion Dr. George Norton expressed confidence that if Guyanese apply the same level of tolerance and respect they do for the various religions, the nation can become the epitome of love and a model of harmony for the world to follow.
“Achieving this is very much possible but it all starts with ourselves, with our families, in our homes. As the Minister responsible for Social Cohesion, I want to humbly encourage you to teach your child, your children, your loved ones, love for humanity,” Minister Norton said.
He further called for parents to foster the innocence that children possess for building a more peaceful world.
The event featured interfaith prayers from seven religious bodies including the Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Baha’i, Rastafarian, Faithist and the Indigenous Group.
The message of peace and love for all was echoed by representatives of the Alliance for Change and A Partnership for National Unity. The representative for the People’s Progressive Party was a no-show.
World Inter-Faith Harmony Week is being held from February 1-7, 2018. Since 2011, the IRO has been collaborating with government to host the annual prayer breakfast which marks the commencement of the Harmony Week locally.
Religious text and other spirituality collectables from various faith groups are usually on display.
The World Interfaith Harmony Week was first proposed at the UN General Assembly on September 23, 2010, by H.M. King Abdullah II of Jordan. Just under a month later, on October 20, 2010, it was unanimously adopted by the UN.
The Week is based on the pioneering work of “The Common Word initiative,” which started in 2007 and called for Muslim and Christian leaders to engage in a dialogue based on two common fundamental religious Commandments; Love of God, and Love of the Neighbour, without nevertheless compromising any of their own religious tenets. (DPI)