Interfaith Responses to the Coronavirus Pandemic Part II
Even if the Pandemic ends, even if the vaccine is made, humanity may repeat the same mistakes and try to follow the way as it has been. Religions should remain as good influencer and small lights in the darkness. Presbyterian Church USA is launching a new awareness movement based on the book of Matthew 25, we should look after hungry people, look back at people on marginalized, and stand in solidarity with them as a mission of faith. We should think about the religion’s location in our society. People of faith should think about how the poor, the homeless, and those driven to minorities live, endure and go through this time. Have you ever thought about how do people in China, Africa, India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh go through this crisis beyond our limited understanding of the American society we live in? Have you ever thought about what kind of life the marginalized people live in those countries, especially young children and women? If such difficulties cannot be considered by us, we are still making the same mistakes that we have made so far until now.
Now we have Ramadan in the age of Pandemic. Muslims are baffled by Ramadan’s unfamiliar circumstances in the new normal but are trying to find their own way to fulfill their religious piety. Although we cannot gather to pray, we pray for the community and all feel that all is deeply connected to one another. In Qur’an, there is a phrase, “Easy comes with the hardship.” It is a short passage, but through this, we learn that the conclusion, resolution, and consolation of all these difficulties are not conclusively given to those who endure them after all the difficulties are over but given with difficulties as a process. We shall not try to forget or ignore our grief. With this difficulty, we have an opportunity to look after one another. We should see grace that God pours upon us in this difficult time. God gave us to one another. It is the one that gave us the people of God who can overcome the challenges by working together with one heart. We must move away from the selfish and narrow eyesight that focuses only on me or on my religion but think about humanity and go further in solidarity with all creation of the world. The most crucial role of religion is to ‘connect.’ You need to connect different things and connect different groups and people have lost their loved ones and are separated from one another so that they will not face each other in hatred but realize a deep connection that God has allowed us and wants us to deal with as one heart.
We must find the answer within the interfaith relationship. In each tradition, we must find deep wisdom to overcome difficulties together. The interfaith communities must cope with the crisis of humanity that is approaching to us and overcome them together with trust based on the recognition that we are all connected through the relationship with God. International organizations had worked on their own beliefs before Covid-19, but now they must work together to create synergy. Groups, such as Religions for peace and Parliament of religions, should work together. If we start working together, we will be able to understand one another better and share our pain that we are going through. Through these actions, we will be able to discover the image of God in all of us.
The world is a place in need of healing. We want peace to fill the whole land and hope justice to be actualized in our society. Since the break out of COVID-19, we have been experiencing a slow cessation of the global economic system we depended upon. The system we depended on has been based on inequality, discrimination, and structured exploitation. This neo-liberal economic system was crossing an irreversible threshold in our ecological system of the Earth, destroying/exploiting the environment on where we live and not taking care of those who are marginalized. As members of the human community, we should avoid returning to the same/previous system after the end of this Pandemic but change the direction of civilization with New Normal. Some people say that global warming merely is a made up story and the environmental destruction is not a serious concern because it is a small indispensable external effect in our great global economic system. However, at this point, when the world’s economic system stopped, we can look at the clear sky again and see the mountains that we could not see through smog before. The carbon dioxide level is decreasing rapidly, and the destroyed natural ecosystem is remarkably recovering by themselves without human’s interference. This is the time for a change.
Ironically, during the quarantine of staying home, we have an opportunity to achieve a better understanding one another through technology and discuss meaningful things. At this point, we must discover spiritual values that can open up a new world together, which will lead us to new normal. The traditions of each religion we belong to are like deep spring water that we can bring up wisdom which is beyond our knowledge and experience.
Writing and editing: Dongwoo Lee, Director of EcoCiv Korea
Translation: Heeyoung Jung, Staff of EcoCiv Korea
Translated from the article, https://bit.ly/3mopo1K