Beliefnet
Everyday Spirituality

Hasan Sidiqi serves lunch at Tulip and Rose Cafe in Franklin, NY

Hasan Sidiqi serves lunch at Tulip and Rose Cafe in Franklin, NY

Building mutually useful relationships between religions and their societies, involves the best use of language and good public relations. PR may not yet be possible between hyper-antagonistic individuals and groups however good public relations is possible between people holding informal attitudes sweetened with hope.

We can say hello to people who speak or look different. We can invite to lunch someone who holds differing thoughts on religion and share what we have in common.

A 2017 Pew Research survey reported, “Across the board, Americans express warmer feelings toward religious groups when they are personally familiar with someone in the group, consistent with findings from the June 2014 survey.”

Recently, in New York’s Delaware County, the Sufi Muslim community, Osmanli Dergahi, invited local officials and leaders to lunch at a café. “As Muslim-Americans, we wanted to host the lunch as an opportunity to offset suspicions surrounding Islam,” said Erdem Kahyaoglli.

The commonality? Standing for justice and freedom.

The Muslim community was founded in 2002 by Sheykh Abdul Kerim el-Kibrisi, the Worldwide Leader of the Osmanli Naksibendi Sufi Order. The Dergahi offers a peaceful, contemplative outlet for those interested in spirituality and a traditional lifestyle.

I wonder, as a Christian wanting to feed hope, what are we up against when building relationships? What needs countering to become familiar with the unfamiliar?

Arguably, there is a mountain of evidence suggesting human beings, lightning-fast, divide the world into us and them. The dividing is accomplished with not only religion, but also gender, race, ethnicity, and language.

Because language has shown itself inadequate to express reality, or God, or Allah, it isn’t good public relations to defend revered words as if they contain truth. It isn’t good PR to repeat language that no longer builds.

Building relationships requires innovation and vitality. Building is more than maintenance. It is more than trying to use the past to connect with new peers.

Good public relations include body language. I ask: Am I serving others, or myself? Am I fighting on the side of justice, or of bias?

Good PR is active. It helps firewall the brain from being hijacked by suspicion or terror, mends relationships, digs out fear.

Although fear related problems have been traced to physiological conditions like an overactive thyroid gland, or to psychological conditions like arguments between the head and heart, solutions are found when looked for.

And, for billions of people, the tool of religion has proven useful when facing fear. Many thinkers attest to freedom from terror, gained spiritually, on websites like Beliefnet.com. One Beliefnet post offers 10 Bible verses to inspire courage.

Whether it’s the courage to smile at a stranger, have lunch together, or let go of language that no longer works, the courage to assert good PR, every day anew, can build relationships, by starting at home.

 

Bio: Cheryl Petersen is a freelance writer and contributes to The Daily Star in Oneonta, NY. Her books are: from science & religion to God, 21st Century Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, I Am My Father-Mother’s Daughter. Available on Amazon.com

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