‘We have been working to undo these associations for a decade’

The prepared text of Nycole Turmel’s remarks yesterday to the Global Conference on World’s Religions after 9/11.

I am delighted to welcome all of you to this conference and to Canada.  And I am proud that Canada is hosting such an important exploration of peace and faith.

Because Canadians, at our best, are strong advocates of peace in the world. We identify strongly with Canada’s tradition as a leading voice for peace. Canadians, are to their core, people of peace.

And we share with everyone in this room a faith in the immense potential of the human spirit.

That kind of faith in each other was shaken on September 11, 2001 — pierced by those four rogue aircraft that caused such suffering.

The very idea of believing in something larger than our individualistic selves…

The very idea of any larger purpose, religious or secular, drawing us together ….

All of this became intertwined in the popular imagination with notions of aggression and terror.

In our own ways, we have been working to undo these associations for a decade. I see today as another wonderful opportunity to move this project forward.

And who better to focus our discussions than this morning’s very special guest:

His Holiness the Dalai Lama.  Spiritual leader of the Tibetan people. Inspiring teacher to citizens of the world.

He’s someone who leads by example, with compassion in the face of aggression, with hope in the face of fear, with optimism in the face of despair.

Many Canadians have been moved in particular by his practical teachings on peace. Not as the momentary absence of conflict — but as the enduring presence of human rights, economic fairness and mutual respect.

A notion rooted in faith that what holds us together is stronger than what tears us apart. Here in this room, ten years after 9/11, this idea is so very relevant.

So I want to thank His Holiness for giving us this rare opportunity to engage with him.  And I want to thank all of the special guests who will be speaking today. Including Deepak Chopra and Nobel Peace Laureate Shirin Ebadi.

Finally, I want to welcome each and every one of you. On behalf of all Canadians, thank you for coming here to share your ideas.

You represent so many spiritual traditions. So many cultural backgrounds.  Such incredibly diverse life experiences. But one shared commitment to reach across all kinds of borders to build a better world.
I wish you all a wonderful conference today.

And I leave you with the words that have inspired so many Canadians these last weeks — the last public words of our dear friend, Jack Layton.

Love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear.  Optimism is better than despair.  So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic.  And we’ll change the world.

Thank you.

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