When worried American parents reported to authorities that their five sons had been missing for some time, and that they suspected they were intent upon joining militant jihadists in Pakistan, the American public was alerted to the danger of home-grown terrorism. Investigators discovered that in large part the young men were “radicalized” by Internet communications. In his book, Acts of Faith, Eboo Patel, founder of the Interfaith Youth Core, points out that bright, young, impressionable minds can be turned either toward violence or compassion, depending upon who reaches out to them, spends time with them, and gives them a purpose for living. In a wired world it is almost impossible to control who reaches out to youth, and what messages they convey. However, concerned citizens can counteract bad actors by educating and motivating youth toward compassion and service. The Internet, as this post will illustrate, is a magnificent tool for this purpose.
The reader will notice that I post videos frequently. I do so not only because I love the artistic and technical challenges of making videos, but more so because video is king of the media. It conveys so much, so quickly to the human brain! It is the modern pedagogical toolbox par excellence.
Below I share a couple videos featuring people and organizations that are setting stellar examples of using the Internet for interfaith peacemaking. The first video will introduce you to The Charter for Compassion, an educational manifesto conceived by the historian of religions, Karen Armstrong, and refined by much public input via the Internet.
The second video, produced by youth, captures the essence of The Interfaith Youth Core, an organization founded and directed by Eboo Patel, an American Muslim of East Indian heritage. IFYC encourages youth to embrace religious pluralism by inviting them to take part in service projects and then, with others of various faiths, reflecting on their common experience.
In future posts I will present more examples of individuals and organizations using the Internet for interfaith peacemaking. I plan to present a stimulating and inspiring collection which may move you, I hope, to become a Websavvy participant in this crucial work. If you know of good examples already available by link, or would like to share your own writing or pictures or videos or sound files, please leave me a comment and I’ll be in touch.
Thank you, and peace!