Posted by: ourvoicestogether | April 24, 2008

How Can We Diminish Extremism?

How Can We Diminish Extremism?Our Safer, More Compassionate World forum was one of many positive strategies offered at Tufts University’s Pathways Project conference, Religious Pluralism in a Time of Extremism: The Campus Responds, held in Medford, Massachusetts on March 2, 2008. The conference brought more than 300 students, faculty, community leaders, academics and activists from around the nation to discuss why and how engaging in inter-religious dialogue and cooperation can effectively address intolerance and extremism. Supported by the United States Department of Homeland Security through the START Center, it marked the culmination of two years of collaboration among five campuses—Brandeis University, MIT, Tufts University, University of Maryland and Wellesley College—to develop and implement campus programs that promote dialogue and cooperation among students from different religious backgrounds.

Our forum included Our Voices Together partners Vicente Garcia (Americans for Informed Democracy) and Daniel Tutt (20,000 Dialogues). Together we presented a summary of our nationwide forum series and how it is changing the public conversation about individual response to terrorism, especially among students. We focused on concrete, positive global action as part of counterterrorism strategies and then modeled an actual forum, facilitating discussion and offering local and global actions students and others can take as a response to terrorism.

I asked our members to continue the dialogue and tell us their ideas: how can we diminish extremism?

Here is what you said:

“Allow people to express themselves in anyway they choose. they cannot feel that they have limited freedoms so they will not be able to call for extreme actions since the call will be muted because of their freedoms to express themselves.” — Richard L.

“We need to focus on our commonalities. All religions are founded on the basic principle: love your creator. love your neighbor as yourself. Secondly, do to others what you would want done to you.” — Rayleen N.

“My wish is for all faithful/spiritual leaders to stop condemning opposing views and start focusing on the ties that bind… Bringing back the basics of respect, tolerance and understanding. We are all one race, the Human Race, with families, dreams, blood, sweat and tears. We all need food, water, shelter and love. With division comes turmoil, in unity comes hope.” — Victoria C.

“Leave religion in the institutions. Bring the values of compassion, respect for every living being and this earth to the table and go from there.” — A B.

“Try making an existential commitment to morality, relying less on myth and legend for an inner core. Short of that a more Asian view that life is more about doing than being.” — Clayton H.

“I have just finished writing a 5000 word chapter for a book on Cultures of Peace that will be published later this year. It suggests how we can use the legislation now under consideration for establishing a Department of Peace in the Cabinet (Kucinich) for moving America from its current emphasis on peace through strength to an emphasis on peace through cooperation.” — Paul K.

“Terrorism is and always has been the political act of last resort, used when no other political means are available. We have seen it many times and in many places, most notable to Americans, in Northern Ireland. The solution is obvious. The people who feel wronged by political status and events must be addressed in across the table conversations to reach accommodations. It happened with the IRA in Northern Ireland by the good efforts of the retired US Senator and it can happen now with the Islamic terrorists who threaten the US but it will never happen as long as there are people who block the obvious solution by attempting to label the US as “right” and the Muslims who rightfully feel politically oppressed by the US as “wrong”. You say the Muslims are wrong to employ terrorism? What should they do to prevent the continuing oppression of Muslim Palestinians, the systematic corruption and support of royal families and the invasion and occupation of Muslim countries? It is not a propaganda war as you seem to imply. It is a very real political issue caused, as the 9-11 report clearly states, by US foreign policy.” — Charles L.


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