A Brighter Future: Brought to You by Tolerance and Responsible Leadership

May 1, 2019 by Bawa Jain

Persons of faith from around the world are suffering, yet again.

The world had not yet healed from the attacks in New Zealand, when the devastating Easter Sunday suicide bombings took place in Sri Lanka. Then, just a week later, there was another hate-fueled attack – this time at a synagogue in California.

In today’s world, extremism and violence run rampant.

They take form in a variety of acts – each of which is driven by hatred and flagrant intolerance, and is deliberately designed to destroy families, communities, and even entire countries.

What’s more, no place is off-limits – schools and movie theaters, offices and places of worship.

I often ask myself, with all of our differences, how can we build bridges that effectively connect what is currently divided?

My work in the interfaith movement has led me to a solution that relies on two key pillars: tolerance and responsible leadership.

This two-pronged approach, focused on fostering a more tolerant world by asking global leaders to lead by example, is on display today, as responsible leaders – from a wide range of industries, backgrounds, religions, and creeds – gather at the United Nations for the Responsible Leaders Summit.

Here, leaders are collaborating to find concrete solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges – all while embracing diversity and combatting intolerance.

Each leader in the room – executives from organizations as diverse as Nike, the Muslim World League, PayPal, the National Black Women’s Justice Institute, Center Forward, the Federal Communications Commission, and the Clinton Foundation – brings a unique perspective to the table, and, at this table, our work will lead to actionable, sustainable solutions designed to take effect right away.

The recent attacks in California, Sri Lanka, and New Zealand are just three examples of an unfortunate truth: Intolerance, oftentimes in the form of religious intolerance, makes the world a hostile place.

In the aftermath of any attack, there are public cries for a response – people want to find a path forward. Thoughts and prayers, unaccompanied by actionable plans, are no longer adequate.

To find solutions – the path forward society longs for – individuals from all walks of life must commit to finding common ground, and, while widespread tolerance will surely not transpire overnight, immediate steps must be taken. There is no time to waste.

In order to combat intolerance and bigotry, and instead stimulate tolerance, peace, and justice, leaders from government and business, community groups, and religion – just to name a few – must lead the way.

This effort will require conviction over convenience, and principle ahead of pride – which is the mission of the Responsible Leaders Summit, hosted by the Centre for Responsible Leadership. Whether it is developing leadership curriculum at universities across the globe or creating an index to report on the responsible behavior – or lack thereof – of the world’s most prominent institutions, the recommended outcome of today’s Summit may vary; however, the goal remains the same – promoting tolerance to create a better, more just world for generations to come.

Extremism and violence have no place in our society, and, it is my hope, that, with responsible leaders paving the way to tolerance, acceptance, and diversity, we can help prevent these tragedies in the future.

Bawa Jain is the Secretary-General of the World Council of Religious Leaders and founder of the Centre for Responsible Leadership, the host of the Responsible Leaders Summit at the United Nations.

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