Women In Spirit and Flesh
A Welcome Mat of Peace
On the same day this fall that Claremont Lincoln University held its opening convocation, it also announced a new agreement with the International School of Jain Studies and the Federation of Jain Associations in North America. Along with Hinduism, Buddhism and Sikhism, Jainism is an Indic religion best known for its path of non-violence toward all living beings. These principles can be seen from Jainism's influence on Mahatma Gandhi to its disciplined vegetarianism.
In a ceremony of sharing wisdom, one Jain leader made a comment that summarized the meaning of peace in today's context. Referencing the fact that Jainism is considered one of the smaller of the major world religions with just 10-12 million followers worldwide, he said, "We are a minority in India, but you have made us highly welcome here."
While I hope that Claremont Lincoln University and its affiliate schools continue to evoke this response from different religious traditions, I am more impressed by the reminder that interreligious understanding and peace begin in intimate ways: through education, by music, in our homes, with our welcome mats.
Ten years ago, the United State took a different route. I wish our leadership had looked into its homes, examined its clenched fists and asked whom it needed to welcome. Now, I believe the responsibility for peace is ours. There's a Worldwide Week of Peace in my community. But whether it means a reading club, a new friend, multi-religious education or ensuring physical and psychic safety for your self or a loved one, peace is probably best sought close to your front door.
Monica A. Coleman is Associate Professor of Constructive Theology and African American Religions and Co-Director for Process Studies at Claremont School of Theology and Claremont Lincoln University. An ordained elder in the African Methodist Episcopal Church, Coleman has earned degrees at Harvard University, Vanderbilt University and Claremont Graduate University. She blogs about faith and depression at Beautiful Mind Blog