The Good, Gentle and Noble Character: Advocacy for Values Based Education
Inspired by the UN Observance, The Green Market brought together a small group which included a Chief of the First Peoples (Caribs), an Orisa chief, a Pentecostal(former commissioner of prisons), a Buddhist, a Brahma Kumari, a Sufi Muslim and an Anglican.
This small group met twice to discuss the commonalities in each of their faith traditions and to reflect on how the tenets of each faith inspire social action. We were looking for the values in the multi-cultural state that is Trinidad & Tobago that could motivate and unite us towards collective action. While the first meeting concluded that reverence and respect for Nature might be the umbrella theme, the second conversation zeroed in on the Orisa faith's concept of "Iwa Pele", which means good, gentile and noble character.
As the conversation deepened, the group analyzed some of the contemporary ills of the social fabric and distilled some of the characteristics in each faith that could build this good and noble character in the citizenry. Among the attributes were courage, discipline, responsibility, gratitude, goodness, generosity and wisdom.
The Sufi introduced the group to the concept of "Ihsan" meaning that God is constantly watching each of us and accounting for our actions. The Pentecostal stressed being of service in the world and learning not to be careless with one's self.
Our steering group's intention is now to develop an advocacy strategy that will rally the public and the policy makers around the importance of this harmonious interfaith conversation and allow for the introduction of a values-based curriculum in our primary and secondary schools.
The time was too short for us to achieve these goals before March 7 but we will pursue this project. We would be very grateful were we to obtain some support for this effort so that we could develop preliminary materials and media to accelerate the public's understanding.
interfaith photos at the shrine