Religious Pluralism Shines at the 9/11 Unity Walk

September 12, 2011

As the tenth anniversary of the September 11 attacks, this year’s commemoration of 9/11 was particularly poignant. I had the fortune to experience for the first time an event which provided not only thoughtful acknowledgement of the lives lost ten years ago, but a positive response to the religious intolerance embedded in the event and its aftermath.
The 9/11 Unity Walk is an annual event which brings together people of all faith backgrounds or none for an afternoon of interreligious exposure and dialogue. I joined with fellow Georgetown students in learning about the Sikh, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, and Orthodox Christian traditions from people of those faiths in a variety of sacred spaces - and there was more to see.

I was humbled to be welcomed by individuals of other faiths not by setting aside our differences, but rather by exploring and embracing them. I was in awe of the visible cooperation of the people of different faith traditions - the Muslim call to prayer at the synagogue, a traditional Hindu horn-blowing followed by a Protestant minister and Jewish rabbi speaking side by side on the steps of a mosque, and more. It was both an educational and inspirational day.

Perhaps the greatest reward of the afternoon was the shared experience and conversation amongst the students with whom I attended. I had several conversations about religion and reflection on 9/11 that I had not had before - both with individuals I have known for years and others I met that day.

As the event concluded, and we stood side by side reiterating a pledge to peace spoken moments before by Arun Gandhi; I felt encouraged that the students with whom I had connected that day would be a valuable support in pursuing this commitment.

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