Morality and respect

COFFEE WITH WARREN, with Warren Harbeck
Cochrane Eagle, June 8, 2023

Well, can morality exist without God? That was certainly the question that stimulated some serious discussion at the 12th World Religions Conference on May 31. Organized by the Ahmadiyya Muslim community of Calgary and held at the Cochrane RancheHouse, it brought together panelists representing Christian, Muslim, Baha’i, Humanist and Indigenous perspectives in a mutually respectful dialogue.

Mutually respectful? If nothing else spoke to the heart of the question, that certainly did.

Indeed, Stoney Nakoda Elder Tina Fox pointed to waahogipabi (Stoney Nakoda for “respect”) as central to the virtues the Creator gave to the various cultures of the world for living together in harmony. This was echoed by Christian theologian Scott MacDonald, who noted that humans have this as an inherent sense, a reflection of the presence of God, incarnated in Jesus Christ, and, Baha’i panelist Daniel Kohm pointed out, articulated in the Lord’s Prayer: “Thy will be done.” Thus, added Imam Atta ul Wahab, such respect for God underlies his community’s motto, “Love for all, hatred for none.”

Even in the case of Humanism, Nathan Klassen commented, our reasoned concern for the welfare of all humanity itself, and not belief in the existence of God, is the essence of our life together.

Here, I would have to add as a Christian, to love/respect our neighbour as ourselves is tantamount to loving God.

Clearly, I wasn’t the only attendee who was touched by spirit of the evening. Calgary Muslim attendee and event volunteer Kalim Ahmed emailed me his thoughts. I’ll close with his letter.

WHAT A REFRESHING experience it was to attend the 12th Annual World Religions Conference, after a hiatus of two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It was truly remarkable to witness such an outstanding event that surpassed all expectations…. The learned panelists ensured that a rich tapestry of ideas and a comprehensive exploration of the various religious traditions was represented….

However, what truly stood out and left a lasting impression was the spirit of brotherhood, harmony, and understanding that permeated the conference. The core objective of these gatherings, as I understand it, is to foster dialogue and mutual respect among people of different religious backgrounds. The 12th Annual World Religions Conference succeeded admirably in this regard.

The atmosphere throughout the event was one of open-mindedness, and a genuine willingness to listen and understand each other's points of view. Participants engaged in thoughtful and respectful exchanges, transcending differences and focusing on shared values and aspirations. Witnessing individuals from diverse faiths coming together in such a harmonious manner was truly inspiring and reinforced the belief that interfaith dialogue is instrumental in building bridges and promoting peace.

The whole Cochrane Community deserve our recognition for their commitment to fostering understanding and promoting interfaith dialogue. It was truly a privilege to have been a part of this remarkable gathering and look forward to future editions that continue to promote dialogue, unity, and mutual respect.

—Kalim Ahmed


© 2023 Warren Harbeck

Return to Coffee With Warren home page