I Don’t Know
I’ve just returned from Pakistan where I participated in a conference sponsored by the US-Pakistan Interreligious Consortium, which Intersections International helped launch. Being home less than twenty-four hours, I’ve already been asked many times, “So what did you think of the experience?” My answer, for now, has to be “I don’t know.”
We experienced donkeys and old motorcycles jockeying for position on the roads, yet we stayed in beautiful modern hotels (surrounded by barricades and security personnel). We had wonderful Pakistani hosts, mostly Muslim, who are committed to finding ways to live in peace with all, yet we were in a country where religious minorities suffer. The delegates carried great optimism for the world, yet the problems we discussed were complex and overwhelming. Everyone we met was incredibly gracious and hospitable, yet shortly after we left, in a town 350 miles away a bomb killed 22 and injured 90.
There is so much to process that I need time to make sense of it all. Here is what I can say about the experience. We will not forge peace in this world unless we work at it—it won’t happen accidentally. Change is forged through relationships—more data won’t change people’s views. We must go to the hotspots in the world if we hope to win hearts and change minds—it means taking risks. And even if peace seems unachievable, it is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.
It was a privilege to be a part of this conference and see how the relationships that Bob Chase and Intersections have made are opening doors in a difficult place around difficult issues. The seeds of peace are being sown.