Emory Report
October 29, 2007
Volume 60, Number 9

Highlights from the first Emory Summit on Religion, Conflict and Peacebuilding:

• His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama, Emory Presidential Distinguished Professor

“All the major religious traditions carry this message, a message of love, compassion. And with that, if some kind conflict happens, then a spirit of reconciliation, tolerance. These are wonderful things in human society. Various religious traditions have the same potential to provide these good things, not necessarily to convert [people]. So I think our work here in the religious field is not for propagating religion — that’s up to the individual — but to bring those valuable things that come from religion [to people.]”

• Rabbi David Rosen, director of the Department
for Inter-religious Affairs of the American Jewish Committee

"Abraham saw the angel in everyone. And that is, of course, the real challenge. When we can see the angel in every human being … regardless of race, color, sex and even in the context of conflict, then we can find the true resource … the resource of healing, the resource of peace and the resource of reconciliation."

• Sister Joan Chittister, author, activist and member of the Benedictine Sisters of Erie, Pa.
“Religions themselves must be accountable for the violence that is ours, as well as charitable to those who suffer from it. That’s why we’re here today, to teach that love, to show that compassion and to honor the other. Why? Because if the people will lead, eventually the leaders will follow.”

• Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na’im, Islamic scholar and Emory Charles Howard Candler Professor of Law
“We should not speak about we, we should speak about I. What is my responsibility, not our responsibility. The advantage of focusing on the human agent is that it opens up all possibilities of change.”

• Rajmohan Gandhi, visiting professor at the University of Illinois and grandson of Mahatma Gandhi
“All of us, we judge ourselves by our ideals and the other side by its deeds. And even though some Hindus have been critical of my throwing a searchlight at where Hindu society might have fallen short, the vast majority of Hindus are very much on my side. And this is what I’ve found in one tradition after another.”

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October 29, 2007
Summit sheds light on religion’s role in war and peace

By Carol Clark

The first Emory Summit on Religion, Conflict and Peacebuilding began before the participants took the stage. In the “green room” of the Woodruff P.E. Center, His Holiness the Dalai Lama gave a heartfelt hug to Emory Law Professor Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na’im, Emory’s Charles Howard Candler Professor of Law.

“When I met His Holiness and said I’m from Sudan and he hugged me, I felt peace,” An-Na’im said. “I felt a powerful charge of peace. And that was exactly the point I had thought of making at this summit. For me, as a Muslim, religion is about that inner peacefulness that makes peace possible.”

“I felt something very strong,” the Dalai Lama said, explaining that he had never met anyone from Sudan before and he is deeply concerned about the suffering caused by the current conflict.

“It was a very inspiring moment,” said Laurie Patton, moderator for the summit and professor in Emory’s department of religion.

And it set the tone for a moving discussion between the panel of activists, scholars and leaders who gave their perspectives on peacebuilding from their various faiths: Buddhism, Islam, Christianity, Judaism and Hinduism.

The summit drew a huge crowd on a Sunday afternoon, and several of the speakers received standing ovations as they spoke about the need to fully examine the best and the worst of religious practices and to take personal responsibility for making positive changes happen in society.

In ancient times, when the world was larger, religious traditions of various countries were isolated for the most part, the Dalai Lama said, but today the world is much smaller and interaction is almost constant.

“According to that new reality, we really need close understanding with each other. This kind of meeting is very useful, very helpful. I wish your initiative will eventually reach more areas. This is like the center,” he said of the summit. “I think light comes from this center and will reach a wider area.”
To watch a Web cast of the summit, go to: www.emory.edu/dalai_lama.cfm.