I have learned so much more about Islam in conversation with Jews and Christians and Hindus. I feel like that is part of the beauty of life on Earth - that we discover and develop what it means to be Muslim or Christian or Jewish not in isolation from others, but precisely in relationship with others.
I think that young people are going to continue on with the work on pluralism for two reasons, really. One is because it's the reality of the world that they live in, and I think young people from different backgrounds are asking themselves, what does it mean for me to be a Buddhist and friends with a Baptist?
I think that we live in a remarkably networked world. The problem with that, of course, is that tensions can travel in nanoseconds across the Internet, and so the tensions between Shiites and Sunnis in Baghdad, or between Protestants and Catholics in Belfast - those show up in different parts of the world.
My favorite single line from the Quran is from Surah 49:13, which says that God made us different nations and tribes that we may come to know one another, in the sense that diversity is holy and it was created by God. What we humans are meant to do with that diversity is engage in positive interaction with each other and come to know one another because knowledge is holy and pluralism or positive engagement is holy.
Have big dreams but focus only on what you can control: your own thoughts, words and actions. This was Gandhi's way ... in the words of Buddhist poet Gary Snyder, our job is to move the world a millionth of an inch.
I dream of a world where people from different backgrounds are praying and working for the flourishment of communities different from them, and I find my sustenance not only in these stories in scripture, but in stories of human existence also - the story of the Bosnian Muslim man who took to a Serbian couple with a new baby a liter of milk every day during that horrible struggle in the former Yugoslavia, because he said even if our tribes, our nations, are at war with each other, there is something deeply human about me wishing that your baby survives... Read more »
A social entrepreneur is somebody who knows how to make an idea reality, and one of the great ideas of our time is pluralism. Can people from different backgrounds live together in mutual peace and loyalty? And what we need is a generation of young social entrepreneurs who know how to make that great idea reality in an historical moment where religious extremists are, frankly, making their idea reality.
To teach your child to only be a Muslim in Muslim spaces or only a Christian in Christian spaces means in a way that you're teaching them a religious identity that is relevant to only a very small part of their lives, because the vast majority of their lives in the 21st century are going to be lived in interaction with others.
The question of how people orient around religion differently, or interact with one another, whether that be based on conflict or cooperation, will be one of the most engaging questions of the 21st century.
Too many people think that the faith line divides Muslims and Christians or Jews and Hindus, or just to say that there is this clash of civilizations and people from different religions are inevitably against each other, inherently opposed to each other. I don't believe that for a second. I think the faith line divides totalitarians and pluralists, which is to say that totalitarians from different religious backgrounds.