The World Culture Festival 2016 in Delhi features 35 years of working for peace - that is what the "Art of Living Foundation" stands for. There is no better description of its purpose than the words of the founder Sri Sri Ravi Shankar: "Celebrate life and let the world become a family". To have this vision in 1981 - a decade before the so called "new world order" with the fall of communism and its regimes - seems in retrospective like a prophetical moment.
As a Christian I am convinced that in history there are spiritual moments and persons like this, the Greek call it "kairos", moments of inspiration that open the door into a better future. For Germany Martin Luther's Reformation in 1517 is an example of such a kairos. Next year we will celebrate its 500th anniversary.
The challenges we are facing today are tremendous. We have to generate and shape a concept for a global tomorrow. We experience a worldwide migration movement that is unique in history. We see the fiscal system being stretched to its limits. We experience a high speed global information system that is a blessing on the one hand but causes rebellion on the other hand. The world's population is growing, the resources are limited, and our environment needs sustainable protection. Here is not enough room to describe all the global challenges that we are facing. How can we manage this situation? The worldwide change can only be achieved by a strong value based global leadership, avowing for human rights, economic development and political peace. Furthermore it means respecting each other and carrying on cross-cultural and inter-religious dialogue.
Especially the inter-religious dialogue will become more and more important. In Europe and the western part of the world we experience a decrease of religion. But in a worldwide perspective we see: religion is growing. So the dialogue is an imperative and a matter of common sense. But this dialogue couldn´t be naive. We have to stress the differences in religion: a Hindu doesn´t believe what a Muslim believes, a Muslim doesn´t believe what a Christian believes and so on. Our spiritual heritage is different. Our history is to a great extent a history of war and persecution. In order to build a common future means first of all to look back and to reappraise this history. In a second step we have to learn to tolerate and accept these differences and to find mutual roots and ethics that are able to carry the tree of mankind, such as respect for every living creature and human being. Examples like Mahatma Gandhi led us the way.
Religion can force battles between people and nations. But yet religion can unite human beings. How can we unfold this peacemaking essence of religion?
For me the importance lies in a simple formula: that only a balanced person can make a difference in an unbalanced world. My personal balance as a member of parliament is often contested by the number of problems we have to solve. My personal balance as a Christian is contested by worries and doubts considering the situation of thousands and thousands of human beings abused by corrupt leaders. But on the other hand it is exactly my personal faith that carries me through doubts and helps to resist temptations. Faith enables me to take over responsibility.
My conclusion is: We need to establish a well-educated and open minded generation of young leaders that to face the global problems based on personal faith and is involved in a community that shares the same values. None of us can solve this world wide injustice by himself. But I am sure: united as humble faith-based men and women we make a difference.