The United Religions Initiative, a global interfaith organization of which Euphrates is a member, recently asked its cooperation circles for best practices to confront Islamophobia, which has been on the rise since the Boston bombings. We shared our “5 Things You Can Do” from our website, which we hope will provide an impetus for action not only on this issue, but on any kind of change, local or global, to which you’re looking to contribute in your life.
1. Be one of the 5%!
Social change occurs when a critical mass of people in that society are behind it, according to Everett Rogers’ research at Stanford Research Institute. For a social change to be “embedded,” 5 percent of people must be behind it. The movement or idea becomesunstoppable when 20 percent of the populace is behind it. Anecdotally we’ve seen this to be true in the collective American shift behind every milestone of progress, from voting rights for women to civil rights legislation. When Americans change their minds, government follows.
Euphrates’ vision is to create a collective shift among at least 5 percent of Americans from a paradigm of international relations based on dominance and the exertion of power, to one that abides by the Golden Rule, that values the mutual dependence on the “Other” as the more effective means to survive and thrive.
2. Inform yourself–and then others.
Euphrates’ motto is Inform, Inspire, Transform. There’s a reason “Inform” is first in the line-up! Being informed helps us to distinguish between the ideology of Islamic extremists (who constitute .01 percent of the Muslim population) from the religious practices and faith of the over two billion Muslims in the world.
Get informed through our resources page, basic information, and country profiles. You can also watch any of our 40+ informative talks and videos on topics ranging from understanding terrorism to the power of faith-based diplomacy to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and more. Or check out our joint press release with URI on our efforts to reach out to American Muslims in the Midwest.
3. Meet “the Other”.
What would it look like to get out in your community and the world and encounter “the Other”? You’ll be surprised by the power of a single interaction or a simple message shared person to person. Take the example of Israeli Ronny Edry, our Visionary of the Year, who had the courage to reach out to his Other, the Iranians, and not only inspired a growing movement, Israel Loves Iran, but dozens of similar campaigns, including Iran Loves Israel and Palestine Loves Israel.
Perhaps the author of the book, The Other, Polish journalist Ryzsard Kapuscinski, said it best. “Stop, i say to the man hurrying along in the rushing crowd. There beside you is another person. Meet him. This sort of encounter is the greatest event, the most vital experience of all. Look at the Other’s face as he offers it to you. Through his face he shows you yourself: more than that–he brings you closer to God.”
4. Think globally, act locally.
All change begins at the individual level. It does no good to wring our hands and hold only our government responsible for improving relations around the world or sitting back and waiting for the Israelis and Palestinians to move beyond past grievances. We each need to practice deep listening, forgiveness, respect, understanding, compassion, and love in our own lives, and heal divides beginning in our own community.
Here’s one of my favorite quotes illustrating this idea: “When I was a young man, I wanted to change the world. I found it was difficult to change the world, so I tried to change my nation. When I found I couldn’t change the nation, I began to focus on my town. I couldn’t change the town and as an older man, I tried to change my family. Now, as an old man, I realize the only thing I can change is myself, and suddenly I realize that if long ago I had changed myself, I could have made an impact on my family. My family and I could have made an impact on our town. Their impact could have changed the nation and I could indeed have changed the world.” ~Author Unknown
Last, but certainly not least, we can always pray about seemingly intractable conflicts or situations. Spiritual solutions are always available to bring hope and inspiration to difficult circumstances, and often change thought and action when it seems there is no possible way forward. This reminds me of Albert Einstein’s idea that “problems cannot be solved at the same level of thinking that created them.” What problems in our lives and in our world could be solved by shifting from a problem-focused, material basis of thinking to a higher plane of consciousness on a spiritual level? Let’s pray and see!
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