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"Can We All Just Get Along?" Religions Moving from Conflict to Cooperation

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"If religion did not come to grips with the realities of the human condition on earth, if religion did not try to meet the challenges of alienation and reconciliation, of hurt and healing, of war and peace, then religion would be declaring itself marginal in life," so declares Francis Cardinal Arinze in his epochal work, "Religions for Peace: A Call for Solidarity to the Religions of the World."

This urgent call for solidarity by Cardinal Arinze recognizes the fact that most of the world's conflicts have their origins in religious misunderstandings and disputes. But more critically, "If there is no peace and mutual acceptance among people of varying religious persuasions, then peace in the wider society will not be possible," counsels the Cardinal.

Why is it that religions have such a difficult time getting along with each other and some are even openly hostile to one another? Cardinal Arinze identifies four key values which most religious people possess and which lay the foundation on which to construct what Cardinal Arinze calls "an active commitment to establishing an order that will be a source of tranquility." Those values are: (1) the need to accept other people as sisters and brothers; (2) "Social, cultural, and religious respect for marriage, the family, the child, and human life in its various stages of development; (3) "a willingness to acknowledge fault where there has been any, to repent, to ask and give forgiveness, and to seek reconciliation:" and finally (4) "honesty in speech and work, gratitude to benefactors, hospitality to visitors ... and gratuitous love shown to the poor and needy."

The values enumerated above lay the proper foundation on which to construct the virtues needed to bring about universal peace. Cardinal Arinze identifies those virtues as: justice, love of people, "providing information on the negative and terrible effects of war," healing, and hope.

The rest of the book is devoted to setting forth strategies to accomplish the construction of a house of peace in which all of humanity can dwell. It is an awesome task but one which is critical to the survival of people on earth. This marvelous and insightful book is a must read for anyone, religious or not, interested in facilitating the briging of peace on earth and goodwill to all of humanity.

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