Cooperation may be a natural thing, but it isn't easy. It requires a real willingness to work together across different world views.
That was the message of keynote speaker Dr Stephen Cherry, from the Anglican Diocese of Durham, as he helped launch the 2012 Festival of Spirituality and Peace in Edinburgh.
The launch event for the Festival focused on 'Sharable Futures', and took place at St John's Episcopal Church in the heart of the Scottish capital.
The Festival of Spirituality and Peace, in its twelfth year, features 400 events across 21 venues from 3-27 August. It is sponsored by a wide variety of faith and civic groups, the Scottish government, the think-tank Ekklesia and the University of Edinburgh.
The Anglican leader said that a rich cultural mix and a meaningful religious exchange requires more than polite toleration or middle-class liberalism. Rather it involves a much more gutsy, world-changing effort. We need leadership that makes for peace.
He addressed the packed congregation from a distinctly Christian perspective, but with a hand of friendship towards those of other beliefs and commitments.
'Collaboration for peace' is a good way of extending the 'cooperation for change' message of the Festival, suggested Dr Cherry, who is a Canon of Durham Cathedral.
It is a challenging business, he continued. Sometimes collaborators are suspected of being traitors. A combination of idealism and realism is required.
Likewise, peacemakers will face awkward questions and become critical friends. They will need to develop visionary determination, honourable virtues and spiritual maturity.
The business of building peace and collaborating for change is a duty for people of faith, but not an invitation to turn things into an Olympic race between beliefs. Rather, we need a peace Olympics that uses our distinctiveness to good purpose, said Dr Cherry.
Dr Cherry chairs the first of 24 Conversations at the Festival on Monday 6 August 2012 at St John's Church, at the corner of Princes Street and Lothian Road. It is entitled, ‘Forgiveness: Optional or Mandatory?’
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