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Y. Kawakami: Address to Interreligious Leadership Conference 2017

Address to Interreligious Leadership Conference 2017
Seoul, Korea, November 10 to 14, 2017


Dear friends:

This earth, our world, is a wonderful place to enjoy life. Beautiful nature, abundant crops and good friends abound. In spite of all this, the world has long suffered from conflicts between nations, races, tribes and religions. Today I want us to think about the religious conflicts that have given us all these troubles.

If we read human history, we can easily recognize that at all times, somewhere in the world, races and religions were fighting against each other. Even today there are conflicts in Africa, the Middle East and East Asia. What do you think are the causes of or reasons for these conflicts?

Of course there are many different reasons for these conflicts, but the basic reason is this: each religion believes that theirs is the very best religion in the world. However, in my opinion, there is nothing absolute in this world. Religions have a lot to do with races. But no religion is absolute, and no race is better than others. The crucial mistake we have made is the fact that we believe our religion is the best of all. This results in self-righteousness and exclusivity. Self-righteous dogmatism and exclusive attitudes have caused many conflicts in the past.

What is required of all religions and all religious leaders today is to learn to recognize, to understand, to admit and to accept the teachings and the ways of life of other religions. To be more understanding, more generous and more inclusive is what we need to achieve.

For this purpose, I want to suggest that we, the leaders of different religions, establish a learning place for young people where they can learn not only the teachings of their own religion but also those of other religions. In addition, we should provide something like a service camp where young people of different faiths or races can work together for the benefit of others. Learning and working together will make it possible for young people to better understand other religions and to cultivate themselves to be more generous and receptive.

A role of each religion is to help a person make peace with God or another higher power or to make peace with the world. In other words, we should help a person create a peaceful home where he or she wants to go to after work to relax and find smiles and encouraging words. This sort of ideal home can hardly be found in our society. It can only be found in the arms of God or any supreme being. It is our responsibility to lead people to find themselves a peaceful home, which is in the arms of God. This, I believe, will result in one family under God, or one family in the arms of the Creator.

Thank you.


To go to the Interreligious Leadership Conference Schedule 2017, click here.