October 18 in the frame of the Day of Spiritual Accord, at 14:00 (GMT + 6), Nur-Sultan (Kazakhstan) will host an International conference themed: "Strengthening interfaith and interethnic harmony as an answer to modern world challenges ".
REPORT BY REV. ROBERT CHASE WORLD FORUM OF SPIRITUAL CULTURE ASTANA, 2012 Culture is the collective stories of a society over time. Through the sharing of stories, we deepen the memory of the teller, capture the imagination of the listener, and offer a continuous thread of meaning, purpose and identity for the community.
Technology allows us to amplify these stories in ways heretofore impossible. We can use sound, movement, visual images and personal connections in innovative ways. We can bridge cultural differences. We can discover the uniqueness of our own stories and find those places where we share common ground.
The story you are about to see is uniquely New York. But I am sure its essence is replicated in other places as well, perhaps even here in Astana. The five minute story takes place in the city’s subway in the midst of the grit and grime of day-to-day life. A young woman is trying to reach her dying mother. Notice how quickly the mundane becomes the transcendent. Discover the power of cultural distinctions and common ground. I invite you to find yourself in the story.
As we gather here at this conference to plan for the Second Session of the World Forum of Spiritual Culture, we celebrate our diversity, come together across lines of race, culture, ethnicity, class, gender and national borders, and reach out to the world in new and bold and imaginative ways. The Second Session of the World Forum must be colorful, dynamic, exciting and innovative.
We must be truly global and truly cross cultural. We need to hear from North and South, West and East. How do we do that creatively? Imagine just one example: The Paul Winter Consort is anxious to share with us the Flyways Music Project where a multinational ensemble traces the path musically of billions of birds who migrate up the Great Rift Valley from Mozambique through East Africa to Israel/Palestine and into Europe and Central Asia. Could not these musicians and their music form a symbolic thread for our conference, enhanced by Andean musicians from South America and Japanese Taeko drummers? We would be transported by sound so that we could transform the world.
Technology itself must be woven into our gathering. We must celebrate our respective pasts, for sure; but the focus of our time together should look forward and not back. We must reach out aggressively to young people, speak the digital dialect and use communications technology so that the screens in this room are focused outward, not inward. We must bring the rich mosaic that is our world right here into our midst. We can do that now in ways we never could before.
On the other hand, we must engage one another, not podium to audience, but person to person, so that our gathering has both a hi-tech and a high touch component. And we must tell one another our stories so that it is the very core of who we are that is shared. This requires that we create safe space, and allow ourselves vulnerability and openness to one another. We need to find interactive constructs and dialogical techniques that promote the exchange of music and art and drama and dance and that draw new artists and craftspeople to our table. Then, we must listen to these new voices, empowering them to carry the old stories forward while simultaneously making room for the new.
And we must be joyful. That is not hard for this group. But if our collective voices are to make for lasting change, then we need to bring foot tapping, finger snapping smiles to the faces of those who hear our message. The world is just too serious to leave the joy behind. As we apply these principles, both today and at next year’s conference, we advance the cause of peace in the world.
I close by sharing with you one more five minute video. It is a familiar tune with a powerful message and demonstrates how we can be drawn together in simple but powerful expressions. “When the night has come and the land is dark, and the moon is the only light you see, I won’t be afraid, no I won’t shed a tear, just as long as you stand by me.