Speech by Dr.Azza Karam, Secretary General of Religions for Peace, at the Webinar Hosted by CCRP in Oct. 2020

Dr.Azza Karam
Secretary-General of Religions for Peace

Greetings of peace to each all of you.

My name is Azza Karam, and I have the privilege to serve as Secretary-General of Religions for Peace. I’m deeply honored to be able to have your opportunity to address you today. I wish I could be with you. However, as a result of many circumstances, I’m very pleased that Mr.Lacan, Secretary-General of Religions for Peace China, has very graciously allowed me this opportunity to still somehow be able to be with you. I wish to thank very much the venerable Pagbalha Geleg Namgyai, the President of CCRP, and Mr.Deng Zongliang, the Executive Vice President of CCRP. Please excuse me if I have missed to pronounce the names. I wish you all a very successful conversation and consultation on multi-religious concerted efforts and cooperation to promote common well-being for human beings.

Distinguished delegates to this important conversation please know the Religions for Peace International is a unique organization, movement all over the world. We have an obligation, as actors who have faith, whatever the faith. We have obligation to each other, to our nations, to our communities, and to this planet, to help, work with one another, to be insistent, to be deliberate, to be determined, and to work with one another, for one another. The COVID-19, a global pandemic is teaching us many many important lessons. One of those important lessons is nobody is safe, no nation is safe, no community is safe. When one member is ill, the entire community can be ill. When one member suffers, the entire community suffers. COVID-19 is also teaching us another lesson, and that lesson is unless and until we can save our planet, we will encounter many, many more pandemics. Because when our planet is not safe, when we do not look after our planet, our planet is hurt, which means each, and every one of us is hurt. When our planet is endangered as it is, then each and every one of us, individual, community, nation, globe, is also hurt and endangered. Truly, we have no option to live in isolation from working with one another. We do not have that option. The only option for us to survive as human beings, like the planet, it’s to make sure that we know we are committed and deliberated in working together, regardless of a different nation, ethnicity, class, religion, gender, regardless of these distinctions, that is absolutely natural because we are all born from the same thing regardless of these differences. We must, we must work together.

Cooperation, collaboration, are not options. They are necessities for us to survive. Unfortunately, there are still many people who feel or believe that their nations or communities could survive at expense of everyone else. The truth, however, is we are growing, even with globalization, even with technology, even with wealth, we are growing dependent, not less dependent, more dependent on one another, economically, socially, politically, culturally. China is a nation with one of the greatest, longest civilizations in history. China is a nation that continues to teach the world many things. It is important, one of our important lessons is that we learn, that we teach, that we believe, is collaboration. Do not think I say this because I’m a woman, and softhearted. The best scientific evidence shows, that one tree is killed, the forest can be endangered. The best scientific evidence shows with COVID-19, that one person is infected, and the entire nation can become a hostage. This is an important lesson for all of us. In case some of us are still doubting the value of working together, let COVID-19 be a lesson that we can afford. We cannot afford to not work together. We must. There are moral imperative, social imperative, and healthy imperative, indeed cultural, financial, military imperative for us to work together. All religions have much to teach, and we will be humble, we should be humble in understanding that we have to learn from one another that the main and most important lesson for survival is inter respect and interdependence we have. There is not a single faith, tradition anywhere in the world. That says, two men, you can live on your own, and the hell with everybody else. There is not a single faith, tradition that tells human beings they must be in isolation from one another, that they must be only like, and do work with those we like, and work for those we like. In fact, all faiths, traditions, have many similar messages. The most fundamental message of our faith, tradition, is we are all connected, that we hurt one, we hurt all. There are many examples of you. Yourself, in your venerable organizations, institutions have to bring to the table to learn from one another.

When I worked for the United Nations for nearly 20 years, I hosted and facilitated many pieces of training, learning exchanges between different United Nations systems, entities, and between different religious partners. And the lesson I always want to share was we don’t need to go outside to learn, if we come together in our diversity, institution diversity, religious diversity, cultural diversity, national diversity, social diversity, cultural diversity, if we come together in our diversity, all the knowledge we need is within, is between us. This is also the same message I would like to share with you. All of you who are gathering today, have so much knowledge to share, and to learn from one another. Religions for Peace will be, always be ready to learn from each every one of you, and to share, and to help you to share the learning, the incredible wisdom, that you all bring to the table. The most important fundamental of all wisdom is we are interdependent, not only as human beings but as all beings, as beings living on the planet, we are also interdependent on this planet. We must do our best to save our planet.

COVID-19 hurts our lungs. It attacks our lungs and makes it very difficult to breathe, and many have died, unable to breathe. This is one of the sufferings what our planet is suffering. As we cut the trees, as we undertake different nuclear experience, as we fight one another, we hurt the planet. And when we hurt the planet, we will have nowhere to go. That won’t be beautiful, and as one addresses as the planet, we live on.
Let us learn from one another. Let us learn to be humble servants to one another. Let us learn to stand in defense of our humanity, let us learn to stand in defense of our dignity, humanity, not only one community, not only one race, or not only one ethnicity. But when our humanity is dignified, our humanity collectively is saved. Let us safeguard the dignity of our humanity and the dignity of this earth. Let us please commit, to standing in solidarity with the dignity of one another, to speaking up in defense of those are defenseless, to defending those who are most vulnerable.

Our power is measured not in our ability to have the most mighty armies, our power as humanity is measured in our ability to standing defense of the most vulnerable among us, that includes our planet.

I have full confidence and full faith, that each of you here today, will be able to serve one another, to defend the most vulnerable among us, between us, and to stand up for that which is right, which is dignified for all without distinction, and thereby, to serve our planet.
I wish you many blessings and much success, and thank you for continuing to teach us.