Crawley Inter Faith Network – Inter Faith Week Event :
REPORT : A Celebration of Inter Faith Week 2021 and The United Nations Climate Change Conference COP 26. – Monday 15 th November 2021 19.30 hrs
On 15 th November, local organisations, faith communities and other interested parties joined together in a virtual gathering of the Crawley Inter Faith Network. The activity took place during Inter Faith Week 2021. It was a most satisfying, stimulating and lively, sharing on the theme of climate change. The event left the distinct impression of a very healthy interest in and commitment to; strategies and practices for the preservation of our common home in the light of current scientific evidence, that were convincing and well informed. A diverse array of creeds, ideologies and customs were voiced, broadly representing those held by a typical cross section of the local population in and around Crawley. Member of Parliament, Henry Smith spoke of his own personal resolution in relation to climate change. Futhermore, a written account of the sound, ‘green’, housekeeping policies at St. Catherine’s Hospice, together with their innovative plans for the new build facility in Pease Pottage, was rendered.
Participants presented brief statements to sum up criteria upheld by their particular community / organisation concerning the world beset by environmental defects; changes in local climates caused by global warming. Lots of questions, answers and comments were discussed in response to proposals for the relief of hardship of all kinds, experienced by those who live in areas most hardest hit by extremes of temperature and other devastating weather conditions.
The meeting was well attended. Statements were offered on behalf of the Hindu, Islamic, Christian, Church of Scientology, Bahá’í, Ahmadiyya Muslim, Nichiren Shu (School of Buddhism in the Mahayana tradition) communities together with the the All Faiths Forum, and already mentioned, St. Catherine’s Hospice.
We were reminded of various tenets of faith from longstanding traditions, almost as old as the precarious condition of our planet, relating vital principles and narratives that stress the imperative to care for the natural world. Some submissions highlighted common human faults and failings that add to the problem, particularly through indifference, that spelled out the same thing. Further treatment considered existential arguments and reasoning to define the causes of the problems that look to ways of changing human behaviour as a means to remedy them. For instance, our Hindu friend, noted that meat eating and the massive efforts devoted to the over-breeding, rearing and husbandry of animals solely for human consumption, creates adverse instability that directly and indirectly occasions the deterioration of the ozone layer. Our colleague, who gave a testimony representing the Muslim community, reflected on deeply held, sacred, truths about the Creator and the necessary oneness of creation. In turn this implies moral values about human responsibility to work in solidarity with others and ensure that justice and accountability are a priority in all aspects of our interactions with each other and the Universe. A joint statement from the Anglican Communion, the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church was read, this appeal, urges everyone ‘to play their part in choosing life for the future of the planet’. The contribution from the Church of Scientology set out ‘The way to happiness’ as an important premise and guide to better living. The author of this conviction considers the application of a universal moral code as part of the deal and a pattern of good example, so that all can recognise their duty to emulate it. The Baháʼí assertion was from a simple but well defined concept for realising a global economy based upon moderation, justice and unity, to preserve and conserve the Earth’s resources, to the benefit of all creation. Next was a deposition that recounted the effects of the Industrial Revolution and its direct impact on the biosphere, recorded in world history as consequential events; concomitants of the climate crisis. Thus the Ahmadiyya Muslim community implement the instruction implied in The Quran to combat them, that is : in respecting the beauty of creation. They do this and practice what they preach, especially in the careful and deliberate stewardship of its resources. An example is demonstrated in their community’s policy that advocates the planting of two trees, for every one that has to be cut down and in the design and construction of sustainable places of worship incorporating solar energy, and the use of recyclable materials. The process of human awareness and of actualising the truth about the human condition in the face of suffering, according to the teaching of The Buddha, was proffered as another mode or bearing on the defects encountered in our human experience. Hence, we should not be surprised by the catastrophes brought about by climate crises. Such phenomena is seen in Buddhism as inevitable. It is in the application of the teachings of the Buddha, in following the eightfold path, that we gain enlightenment (awareness) and are empowered by it to encounter this trauma and act appropriately. The last of the statements from the All Faiths Forum, would have mentioned much of what has been previously referred to. A very valid addition however, referred to the polution of the atmosphere and seas, arising from industrial effluent and other caustic influences. It was a reminder to all how crucial the problems have become. The question : What can the man in the street do about this?, is not just rhetorical. Some practical suggestions for taking control starts with being aware of action that is effective and the conviction that the man in the street can make a difference. A belief that the panacea exists in a myriad of possibilities, too many to mention, is crucial. It does require our patient and painstaking effort. Nevertheless a small sample of possibilities, from simply switching energy provider to building, installing and seeking new ways to use renewable energy using : wind and solar power are the real way forward that were novel but are now becoming common place. This proves we are adapting to changing circumstances, the sign of human triumph over adversity. It is the hope that is the cement that binds human beings together and is the essential ingredient in all expressions of creed, cultus and culture.
Variations of opinion and alternative points of view were expressed in the dialogue and discussion that followed. For instance some opined that the vegetarian solution was the main option for overcoming climate based problems and in fact lots of other health related and demographic issues. Others, to the contrary, were more inclined to consider the spectrum of alternative schemes that require a much more comprehensive programme of reform in terms of human behaviour and application of technologies. Notwithstanding these divergent details, what did emerge from the gathering was an overwhelming sense of solidarity of purpose and the will to talk to and listen to people of all faith and no faith, who care deeply about the place in which we all live together and that hopefully will still be the place our progeny will be sharing in peace and prosperity in the millennia to come.
See the IFN U.K.’s faith for the climate resources at :www.faithfortheclimate.org.uk Faith Resources and at Climate action resources – Interfaith Scotland . You can view further details concerning the IFN U.K. Interfaith week at https://www.interfaithweek.org/events/about
If you would like to be more fully involved in Crawley Inter Faith Network or leave a message / comment or to contact Iyad Daoud, Ashwin Soni, Steve Innes or other member of CIFN group, leave a message on the CIFN Inter Faith Calendar page. Your contact details will not be published. Alternately, you can view information on the CIFN Facebook page or the Whatsapp facility.