While national measures limiting social activities bring out changes of daily routine due to the pandemic, efforts to understand spiritually about life facing diseases and related social changes are underway across religion.
On December 14, 560 representatives from 31 religions in 80 countries including Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Jainism, Judaism and Sikhism joined in an online gathering named “HWPL End-of-year Religious Leaders’ Gathering: United Hopes & Prayers for a Brighter 2021” to express words of consolation to humanity and reaffirm inter-religious commitment to and dialogue for peace.
11 religious leaders representing different religions prayed for wisdom and solution to the multifarious life patterns affected by the current COVID-19 crisis. The video messages from religious leaders displayed their support for the role of religion in countering anti-peace movements such as discrimination, hatred and violence that can be exacerbated during the pandemic.
During the prayer, Rev. Acharya Prem Shankaranand Tirth, Hindu High Priest of Shree Geeta Ashram of Delhi, said, “For our colleagues, families of peace, let us continue endeavor of world peace. During this pandemic, we must realize the value of one another in that we all coexist with the nature and other creations. We in the human society must act as one and should exist in peace, harmony and love.”
“I remember sitting at my desk and finding out about the first infection in my own country. I prayed, asking a lot of questions. Many of my peers turned back to scripture in these times to seek answers about the Creator God, His plan, His will and what He wants us to focus on due to these events,” said Ms. Nandi Bester, manager of International Youth Peace Group in South Africa.
“Today we may be able to solve the problem of COVID-19, but another disease will come. When winter is coming, we can’t stop it but can cover ourselves and protect ourselves. That’s what we can do when there is challenging issue of bad health and adversities coming in life. We should maintain patience and learn the art of tolerance and tolerate the difficulty and suffering that is coming upon us,” said Rev. Hare Krsna Das, Priest of ISKCON, Rishikesh, India.
“Regarding the question about how human society should understand why suffering such as COVID-19 occurs, we found that all religions are searching for an answer. In the process, those participating in this event, transcending time difference, pray for the safety of all regardless of their faiths. This is the clear difference from the time before the pandemic when news of conflict was filled with intolerance against groups from different backgrounds. In this respect, it has proved the possibility that humanity in a crisis can be united and one in peace beyond religion,” said a HWPL official.
The organizer HWPL is an NGO affiliated with the UN ECOSOC and had led national plasma donation from over 3,700 people in South Korea who recovered from COVID-19 to develop a cure throughout this year.