Ceremonies, Traditions, & Awards

Peacebuilding Through Faith

World Thinking Day, an International Day of Friendship and Girl Scout tradition, has been celebrated on by Girl Scouts and Girl Guides in 150 countries every February 22 since 1926. Each year, the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS) selects a theme that represents a timely international issue for girls to focus on as they celebrate this Girl Scout tradition. The 2021 World Thinking Day theme is Peacebuilding.

As we explore the topic of peacebuilding, the ties between faith and world peace are not lost on us. Through Girl Scout faith programs, we have found that the Girl Scout Promise and Law are closely tied to many of the lessons taught across nearly all faith organizations.

In 2020, Girl Scouts of Western Ohio was invited to join the steering committee for the Cincinnati Festival of Faiths. As a partner organization, we meet with religious leaders in our community to promote interfaith friendship and understanding through the annual Festival of Faiths.

To better understand how faith leaders in our community are peacebuilders, we interviewed two faith leaders from the steering committee.

Justin Kirschner – Cincinnati Festival of Faiths Steering Committtee Member & Representative of the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati

What does peacebuilding mean to you?
To me, peacebuilding largely means working to advance the language of civility across the globe. In doing so, we can hope to cultivate community leaders that are equipped with the knowledge, and nuance to bring people together, discover positive outcomes, and manage conflict within complex, and diverse changing environments.

How does your faith community and/or organization practice and promote peacebuilding (could be a focus on inner peace, advocacy, activism, etc.)
The Jewish Community Relations Council of Cincinnati promotes peacebuilding mainly through deep relationship building. Relationships stand at the core of our community work which manifests in a variety of ways such as: developing community alliances to combat rising tides of antisemitism and hatred against minorities; through civic initiatives focused on justice reform, voter engagement, reducing gun violence, and supporting immigrant families; by advocating for services that support senior citizens and children; through civility training that encourages constructive dialogue on contentious social and political issues; and by uniting together with other faith communities around our shared values. We strive to strengthen the center and leverage the gifts of our community for the safety, and wellbeing of the common good.  

What advice can you give to young peacebuilders?
A few notions that young peacebuilders can carry on their journeys are to 1.) ask meaningful questions; 2.) stay proximate to the people and situations you want to bring peace to; and 3.) be opportunity ready. What I mean by each of these is this: 1.) It is important to add depth and perspective to things by asking thoughtful questions which lead to more generative conversations and a sense of mutual understanding and respect for diverse viewpoints. 2.) Listening to and working with those who embody different experiences and perspectives than you will help shape your ability to be a bold change maker by lifting those voices up alongside you. 3.) You never know where life is going to take you so stay open minded to all opportunities that come your way, and be confident in your abilities to bring more peace into our world. I’ll close with this simple quote that really resonates with me by an amazing thought leader, Deborah Frieze, “Start anywhere, follow it everywhere”.

Aases Kaur – Cincinnati Festival of Faiths Steering Committee Member & Sikhi Community Member

What does peacebuilding mean to you?
The root foundation of Sikhi is Oneness. We view all of humanity as equals; separations based on gender, race, nationality, ethnicity, background, or age have no bearing. This lens and perspective of Oneness leads us to be firm advocates of equity, community building, justice, and peace. It’s our moral responsibility to stand up for what’s just and right regardless of whether it impacts us directly or not and regardless of the consequences of doing what’s right. 

Peacebuilding means that we break barriers, embrace differences, and build on our shared commonalities. Peacebuilding means we learn from a young age about the different faith traditions in the world. It means that we raise our children with the idea of oneness and instill in them the values of compassion, empathy, and justice. We expand the horizons of our children and teach them to be global citizens and view all of humanity as their own family. 

How does your faith community and/or organization practice and promote peacebuilding (could be a focus on inner peace, advocacy, activism, etc.)
Festival of Faiths is an annual event that engages children in a meaningful way outside the classroom. Kids of all ages learn about their neighbors in the Cincinnati region and what faith they practice and what some of their special practices are. It’s an open environment for kids to learn and grow. These types of experiences sow the seeds of love, understanding, and compassion. And, that’s what we need to build peace in our communities. 

What advice can you give to young peacebuilders?
Our young peacebuilders can and should open themselves up learning more about other cultures, traditions, and faiths. They should be speak up and speak out as needed and practice their values fearlessly. They are our hope for a more just and peaceful world. 

Ready to celebrate what it means to be a peacebuilder? Learn more about the World Thinking Day award activities for 2021!

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