The role of individuals in promoting peace was emphasised by prominent Australian journalist and author Liz Deep-Jones at an event following a service at the Baha’i Temple in Sydney on 20 September.
The service, held to mark the International Day of Peace, included readings from the sacred scriptures of the major world religions.
Introducing Ms Deep-Jones at a reception after the service, Australian Baha’i Community discourses officer Safa Rahbar said the event was being held to look at what people could do to promote harmony among different cultural and religious groups, and what role religion can play.
Ms Deep-Jones, who has gained a national profile via her programs on SBS TV and her two teen novels, responded to questions on peace, social cohesion and religion from Venus Khalessi, Public Information Director of the Australian Baha’i Community.
Ms Khalessi referred Ms Deep-Jones to a statement by the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon on the role of faith-based groups in creating a more peaceful world, and asked how she saw the role of religion in building peace and social cohesion.
Ms Deep Jones said she thought religious leaders had a big role in urging respect for the beliefs of others, and that every individual also had a role in showing that respect.
Drawing on a family anecdote, Ms Deep-Jones said adults could change their attitudes and become more tolerant and accepting.
“Every single person can make a difference—I truly believe that. You can work towards peaceful means, even with your neighbours, your friends…”
She endorsed what the Dalai Lama told her in an interview, that at the end of day “we are all the same, we are one, and we are human beings.. it doesn’t matter—your colour, your creed, your religion, your background, what job you do”.
After referring to the widespread desire for peace as found on social media, Ms Deep-Jones said the news media can play a role in educating people, in breaking down barriers, bringing people closer together and giving greater understanding of people from different culture and backgrounds.
An excerpt from a documentary titled “One Day for Peace”, which depicts understandings among people from diverse religious and cultural perspectives in Western Sydney, was screened at the event.