We are Better Together

I still wear the bright blue wristband, adorned with the simple large letters of
“We are Better Together.” 

I can’t count the amount of times I’ve heard and read this statement throughout my experience at the Interfaith Leadership Institute in Los Angeles, sponsored by the Interfaith Youth Core. I always found myself interested in interfaith dialogue, but until then held no formal experience or proficiency in interfaith and service. Ergo, not only was I uncertain of what to expect but also apprehensive of the challenges of interfaith dynamics I know too well.

Nonetheless, three days overflowing with storytelling, inspirational speakers, brainstorming, new friendships, and unforgettable conversations came and went, yet the impact continues to resonate within me. Between IFYC trainers, Better Together coaches, and conversations with fellow peers, I left California feeling inspired, enabled, and ready to contribute to interfaith service back at Georgetown.

What I found even more remarkable about the conference was its emphasis on not only dialogue as a means of bridging faith and non-faith groups together, but also putting interfaith in action. There exist so many initiatives, groups, and peoples whose primary objective is service: helping people and improving the condition of the world one-step at a time. So many faiths and ideologies are centered on compassion for others. So, what would happen if we unified diverse clusters of people with similar goals into one? The strength and efficacy of service would multiply endlessly. At the ILI we discussed and examined this phenomenon, both through small projects such as care packages for the homeless prepared by local faith groups or larger initiatives such as Muslim and Anglican leaders working with the Vatican to combat human trafficking. All the more I realized that finding common ground for the sake of tending to humanity is not only a far more effective approach in service, but also the necessary endeavor if we expect peace and successful service to be a realistic goal. Though we are diverse in belief and thought, we share common values and can accomplish so much more over sharing these values instead of outlining differences. Indeed, we are better together.

The ILI prompted me to think of my Georgetown experience. I couldn’t be more proud to assert that Georgetown, from beginning to present, has been and continues to remain a forerunner in interfaith in action. From the noteworthy presence of chaplains on campus, the extensive resources offered by the interfaith infrastructure, to the Jesuit values embedded in student life and curricula: It truly is a privilege to develop spiritually and participate in service through interfaith here at Georgetown. I will be honest, however, in noting the hesitation I’ve observed from some students on campus in engaging in each other’s differences. Whether rooted in apprehension or uncertainty, I can’t determine, but I hope to apply what I’ve learned on the importance of interfaith service here at the Hilltop. After all, Interreligious Understanding remains as one of the greatest channels to becoming Women and Men for Others. I look forward to contributing in bridging together people of different philosophies through emphasizing the humanity we all share. Our only way forward is together. Our solution is together. We Are Better Together.

Rabia Mirza (new window), COL ’16