Telling Stories, Building Bridges

Wednesday Journal of Oak Park and River Forest (IL) , June 2, 2009


Multi-cultural exchanges, such as a Kwanzaa celebration from a few years back, are common at Unity Temple. Interfaith dialogue is again on tap for this Saturday.

Eboo Patel, founder and executive director of the Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC), recalled that the first interfaith event he attended consisted of a group of old men sitting on a stage discussing theological similarities and differences. While Patel appreciated their good intentions, he could not see how the intellectual exchange could change anything in a world where differences often lead to fear, hatred and violence.

This Saturday, June 6, Hind Makki and Fatema Haji-Taki, two trainers from the IFYC, will join Rev. Alan Taylor at Unity Temple to lead an all-day Building Bridges Conference which will focus on young people telling their stories about living in a pluralistic society with the hope that such sharing will lead to concrete action on civil liberties issues.

“Our goal,” said Taylor, senior minister of the Unitarian Universalist congregation that meets in Frank Lloyd Wright’s endangered building, “is to develop relationships, especially among young people, that [lead to] advocacy around civil rights abuses.”

The IFYC’s focus on fostering understanding is not meant to create a sort of generic pluralistic belief system in the children with whom they work. Just the opposite, they seek to encourage young people to go deeper into their own individual traditions, trusting that at the core of each tradition are shared values like respect and hospitality.

Subjects Covered: diversity, education

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