Faith, Sport and Love, Actually

Pope Francis & Imam Shake Hands

“Changing the world starts with one single act of love.”

–Dr. Aruna Oswal, Religions for Peace

February, a month traditionally associated with love, held special meaning this year. During this time of global crisis, the importance of loving thy neighbor, regardless of faith or creed is of the utmost importance.

Since the pandemic started, just over a year ago, we have seen acts of love manifest in many different forms. From random acts of kindness, such as neighbors delivering groceries to those who couldn’t leave their homes, signs put on the lawns of retirement homes to cheer those inside, music sung and played from balconies to lift the spirits and spread love to those around them. These acts were all done from a place of love – not just the traditional love that we share with family and friends, but a deep-seated, intrinsic love for humanity.

This is the essence of the “LOVE” that is one of Sport for Humanity’s six founding principles.

Pope Francis & Imam Hug

Celebrations of Love

While most people connect February with love because of Valentine’s Day, we shine a light on two international celebrations recognized by the United Nations, both of which are essentially rooted in love.

WORLD INTERFAITH HARMONY WEEK

The first week of February marked World Interfaith Harmony Week. This week aims to spread the message of harmony and tolerance among the followers of all the world’s religions, faiths and beliefs. It calls for all people of goodwill, regardless of faith, creed or belief, to engage in dialogue based on two common fundamental religious Commandments – “Love of God and Love of the Neighbour” and by extension, “Love of the Good and Love of the Neighbour”. Its message invites everyone, excludes no one, and is purely voluntary. (SOURCE: HTTPS://WORLDINTERFAITHHARMONYWEEK.COM/)

“Our profound awareness of interrelatedness calls us to welcome the other and nurture human fraternity in service to the common good.”

— Reverend Kyoichi Sugino, Deputy Secretary General, Religions for Peace

“As we celebrate the International Day of Human Fraternity & World Interfaith Harmony Week, we must use this opportunity to foster interfaith and intercultural dialogue to promote greater respect and love for all.”

— Bhai Sahib Mohinder Singh, Co-President, Religions for Peace

INTERNATIONAL DAY OF HUMAN FRATERNITY

This year, for the very first time, the International Day of Human Fraternity, in the context of World Interfaith Harmony Week, was celebrated on February 4th to underscore the importance of raising awareness about different cultures and religions, or beliefs, and the promotion of tolerance, which involves societal acceptance and respect for religious and cultural diversity, including with regard to religious expression.

The International Day of Human Fraternity also highlights the principles and values included in the Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together, which was signed by His Holiness Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Sheikh Ahmed Al-Tayeb during the Pope’s trip to Abu Dhabi in 2019.

“It is a victory for the dignity of man, regardless of his religion, gender, colour or location. I am committed to continue working with my brother Pope Francis and with my brother scholars and symbols of religion, as well as, with all those who love good and peace, to render the principles and goals of human brotherhood a tangible reality.”

— Sheikh Ahmed Al-Tayeb

“Fraternity is the new frontier for humanity. It is the challenge of our century, the challenge of our times. There is no time for indifference. Either we are brothers and sisters or we will destroy each other. A world without fraternity is a world of enemies.”

— Pope Francis

Live Like You Play Podcast: A Conversation with Dr. Azza Karam

Dr. Azza Karam, Religions for Peace

“Without LOVE our lives are radically empty.”

— Dr. Azza Karam

Dr. Azza Karam, Religions for PeaceIn this month’s podcast, David Eades speaks with Dr. Azza Karam, Secretary General of Religions for Peace. For 50 years, Religions for Peace has been changing the world and challenging the status quo through their mutual conviction that religions are more powerful, inspiring, and impactful when they work together; and that by working together they can create a more peaceful world.

“We come together as religious entities not because we are trying to change one another’s religious beliefs. On the contrary, this is about each religious community or institution joining in its own right, with its own distinctiveness to stand alongside one another to work together on the things that are shared, all the challenges that everyone in humanity faces, that which is by the way, most of the challenges that we face. With Covid we can see that we all face the same challenge. This is one pandemic.”

In relation to Sport for Humanity and specifically, about the shared values between Faith and Sport, she explained that Sport is a way of enacting and living our values that reminds us and continues to inspire us about the joys of human encounter. Since faith is so intangible, sport allows the expression of faith in a physical format. Sport complements faith. Sport allows us to get in touch with that inner realm of faith. With respect to the Sport for Humanity’s Six Principles – Compassion, Respect, Love, Enlightenment, Balance, Joy – Azza intimated that for her, LOVE is the most important, as it is a uniting force for Humanity.

“All of the other principles come from there and are intimately linked. You cannot have much joy if you don’t have love. Love is foundational. This runs through every single faith tradition. It is LOVE that sustains.”

As we move into the second year of the Covid pandemic, we hope that Dr. Karam’s words will help to renew your faith in the power of love, inspiring you to find ways to bring love and joy into your life and the lives of those around you.

To listen to the full podcast, click here.

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