29 / 04 / 19
The Charter for Faith & Belief Inclusion was recently signed by Cllr Saima Ashraf and Rt. Revd. Dr. Musonda Trevor Selwyn Mwamba, on behalf of the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham, and the Barking and Dagenham Faith Forum.
This is the speech that Rt. Revd. Dr. Trevor Mwamba – Chair of the Barking and Dagenham Faith Forum – gave at the signing event at the Broadway Theatre, on 24 April, 2019.
Each of us within ourselves carry the success of the Charter for Faith & Belief Inclusion, which we are signing today. To create a world without fear, we must be without fear. To create a world of justice, we must be just. To create a world of love, we must have love within. To create a world of peace, we must have peace within. To create a world of diversity, we must value and celebrate diversity. To respect and understand other Faiths, we must be humble. We reflect outward what we are within. As we think so we are.
It is auspicious that we are signing this Charter for Faith & Belief Inclusion in the season of Passover and Easter for the Jewish and Christian Faiths respectively, and imminent Ramadan, beginning May 5th for the Muslims.
These holy observances challenge us to look within ourselves to see the changes we need to make so we can overcome our personal prejudices that make it difficult for us to work daily for the inclusion of all people with whom we share this planet.
The Charter for Faith & Belief Inclusion gives us a responsibility to create good relations between people of different faiths and beliefs, by among other principles;
First, believing in an inclusive society where people of different faiths and beliefs have strong and positive relations. And that intolerance has no place in our communities or workplaces, and that diversity adds value to our society.
Second, by connecting people of different faiths and beliefs, so we can create a society which is fair to people of all backgrounds – religious and non-religious. And encourage people to engage more across differences and learn to understand each other better.
Thirdly, the Charter for Faith & Belief Inclusion recognises the need to create a more open conversation about faith and belief in our communities and in all of the UK. And to have these conversations in a spirit of mutual respect and curiosity, and be open to different perspectives.
The spirit of the Charter is about creating good relations between people of different faiths and beliefs. Relation is the operative word, a very important word which underpinnings the Charter. Its a vital word in life.
Martin Buber was a brilliant Jewish religious thinker and philosopher of the last century. All his teachings can be summed up in this sentence, ‘All real living is meeting’.
By meeting, he meant opening ourselves, not hiding behind a rigid code or ritual or tradition. It means relating to God, people, and nature with your whole being, which Buber called an I and Thou relationship. In such a relationship there is a genuine meeting, a give and take, that engages our hearts totally. This is what makes us human; an engagement of hearts.
The opposite of this is the I and It relation. This is not a genuine meeting it implies treating God, people, and nature as a thing or object to be used. It’s to think of God, people, and nature only as objects, subjects, things, not on the same level as oneself.
They are people who treat others as an it. And use people as things for their selfish ends in such relationships people are objects and expendable. They also treat other faiths as an it.
This is not what the Charter for Faith & Belief Inclusion is about. It’s about the I and Thou relationship. An engagement of hearts.
During this season of renewal, healing, and transformation. May we transform individually so we can truly transform collectively our community and the UK to an I and Thou relationship.
To this we in the Barking and Dagenham Faith Forum, Borough of Barking and Dagenham, and Faith & Belief Forum subscribe.
God bless us all.