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Different areas in Mindanao call for dialogue for peace

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Different parts of the world remain unstable because of conflict arising from cultural and religious differences, which in turn generate violence that pits one neighborhood against another or one family against another. Add to this the devastation in people’s lives caused by natural calamities and we get a picture of the reason for the deep longing of people for a world of peace and harmony. The longing runs deep for a world where the value of an individual is not determined by what ethnic or religious affiliation one can claim but simply by the fact that one is a human being created by the Supreme Being.

This longing for a world of peace and harmony among people is felt in a very special way by the people of Mindanao, considering the decades of conflict that Mindanao has been experiencing. How great is the temptation to claim that bombings, kidnappings, family feuds are incidents of the past, part of Mindanao’s history. Sadly they are not. Sadly, these situations continue to the present.

The most recent bombing in Jolo saw the death of 6 people. The spate of kidnappings has turned human lives into commodities in exchange for monetary value. With all these, can there still be love? Can peace still be hoped for? In spite of the many challenges and issues confronting Mindanao today, people still remain hopeful.

The Silsilah Dialogue Movement certainly is still strong in its hope for peace and continues to spread its vision of dialogue, that dialogue whose fruit is peace. On February 5 & 6, 2011 some 30 religious educators attended a seminar workshop whose aim was to build friendship based on sincerity, sensitivity and solidarity among the Madaris and Gurus who teach Islam and the Catechists who guide their young charges in the teachings of the Catholic faith. An important aim of the seminar was to make the religious teachers aware of the ongoing dialogue between Muslim and Christian religious leaders and scholars which saw its birth in the document “A Common Word Between Us and You”.

In Isabela, Basilan on February 24 thousands of people joined a 3-kilometer “Walk for Peace” which was capped by a candle-lighting ceremony.Organized by the Inter-Faith Council of Leaders of Basilan the activity was symbolic action to condemn violence, a call for reconciliation and joint endeavors of all sectors to pursue peace.

In Marawi City the Basic Orientation on Culture of Dialogue, Path to Peace was given to the mentors, coordinators and facilitators of Civic Welfare Training Service (CWTS) of Mindanao State University (MSU) in Lanao del Norte on January 28-30, 2011.Feedback from seminar participants underscored that the activity has helped them to broaden their perspective and understanding of the concept of dialogue as a lifestyle and even as spirituality towards peace.

In Davao City religious leaders, Silsilah alumni and friends convened on January 22, 2011 during the first year anniversary of the Silsilah Forum-Davao Center and the launching of the song “Life-in-Dialogue, It’s Possible!, It’s Happening!”. Showing his sincere collaboration and support, Archbishop Fernando Capalla , who was present during the gathering said, “Only beauty can save the world, for beauty has the element of orderliness, integrity, wholesomeness. Beauty builds friendship; friendship builds family; and family builds community. Towards this stage, we have to be together in dialogue.” One of the recent efforts of Silsilah Forum Davao is to launch the so called Harmony Zone. The orientation about the concept will be held on March 16, 2011. Harmony Zones are identified areas where Muslims and Christians live together and commit themselves to live in peace, harmony, and dialogue and are able to influence their neighbors to join the program and engage in activities for the good of the community.

These reported activities are not world-shaking events. They are simple activities and yet significant in building better relations among different faiths, and truly a manifestation of dialogue as a love in action bringing people towards peace.

By Silsilah Dialogue Movement




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