Four faiths on justice, forgiveness for world out of tune

COFFEE WITH WARREN, with Warren Harbeck
Cochrane Eagle, May 11, 2017

Justice and forgiveness are essential for global harmony, agree the four Abrahamic faiths presenting at this spring’s World Religions Conference in Cochrane.
Graphic by Warren Harbeck with supplied photo

For many justice means little more than getting even, “an eye for an eye.” But as the popular Gandhian saying goes: “An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind.”

Applied to a world whose nations, races and religions so often are out of tune with one another, can there be a better understanding of justice that speaks of restoring harmony? – justice that brings healing among nations and peoples through mercy and forgiveness, instead of holding historic grudges and “getting even”?

This month Cochrane is privileged once more to be hosting the World Religions Conference, sponsored by the Ahmadiyya Muslim community at Calgary’s Baitun Nur Mosque. This is the ninth such public interfaith gathering they have held in our globally minded foothills town. This year’s theme, “Global Conflicts: Justice & Forgiveness,” will feature speakers from the four Abrahamic religions: Jewish, Christian, Muslim and Baha’i.

“The tensions and uncertainty in the world are on a rise and the risk of a global war is imminent,” says Kalim Ahmed, one of the event organizers. “The root cause for the lack of peace is the lack of fairness and justice,” and it is urgent that all of humanity work together “towards safeguarding our future. Opening the channels of communication and facilitating dialogue is essential,” he says.

“The core of all human institutions is Peace,” fellow organizer Malik Agyemang adds, “but until justice and forgiveness are harnessed as core components, there will always be conflicts.”

The four faiths represented at this year’s conference share in common the highest regard for justice tempered with mercy and forgiveness.

Taha Syed, Imam, Baitun Nur Mosque, will represent the Muslim perspective summarized above.

Judie Bopp, for the Baha’i Faith, says, “The Baha’i writings state unequivocally that justice is the essential foundation for world peace: ‘Verily justice is My gift to thee and the sign of My loving-kindness. Set it then before thine eyes.’”

Shaul Osadchey, Rabbi, Beth Tzedec Congregation in Calgary, stated in my column for Oct. 10, 2013: “One of the foundational principles of Judaism is the embrace of justice as we find in Deuteronomy 16:20 … ‘Justice, Justice shall you pursue.’”

This is a concept of justice “that does not distinguish it from the values of faith or love,” he said. “Justice alone would be harsh and punitive while the unilateral application of mercy without the balance of justice would lead to a world torn apart by wrongdoing and suffering.”

I’ve been asked to represent a Christian view of justice. And no doubt I’ll include the quote from Pope John Paul II with which I’ll conclude this column: “There is no peace without justice, and no justice without forgiveness.”

The 9th Annual World Religions Conference will be held at the Cochrane RancheHouse, 7:00 PM, May 24.

© 2017 Warren Harbeck

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