Interfaith, Diversity, and Unity

I was at the Tennessee Valley Pride Interfaith Service on Tuesday night. This year’s theme was on reflection and renewal. The nice thing about this event is that it is really interfaith. Christians, Wiccans, Buddhists, and Humanists all gathered to reflect on LGBT rights and events of the past year.

There were a variety of readings, speeches, recitations, songs, and prayers. Each group was included and everyone worked together to create a very diverse ceremony.

About halfway through, I noticed the wide diversity of the people around me. I had arrived from work and hadn’t changed. I was wearing a dress shirt, khakis, and dress shoes. I sat in the right hand section of the audience and toward the middle since I was going to act as an usher in the later part of the service. One row up from me and in the middle section was the Wiccan who had performed his ceremony earlier. He was wearing a red and grey cloak with dress clothes under it. Two seats to his left was an older gentleman wearing dress clothes like mine. He had a cane with him and his hair was pulled back in a ponytail. Seated to his left were four people in sports coats and dress clothes. The row behind them contained a black couple, with a transgender man seated nearby in the same row. The row behind them were two guys in their early 20s wearing shorts and t-shirts. One had on a ball cap. On the other side of their row was a gay couple I’m friends with. Two rows behind them was a transgender woman who is also a minister.

You could have put the lot of us in a meeting room and had one really unusual corporate motivational poster for diversity. The thing is, though, looking at the wide variety of people just in that section shows a highly varied group of backgrounds and life experiences that have all come together in unity for a common cause. I’m sure if we had sat and talked, we would have found that we came from quite separate upbringings and had very different life experiences in becoming the people we are now.

While way too many areas of our lives still struggle with harmony in diversity but in this little microcosm we had organically achieved what so many struggle to do. We easily overcame what might otherwise have been huge cultural differences that lay between us to come together to all support a cause we believe in.

Reasons like these are why I enjoy interfaith gatherings of all types. We are able to bring a wide variety of people together to support each other or even to just talk and understand our differences. The more we gather and meet to discuss our differences, the more we realize we have goals in common. We may have walked completely different paths in life but we can easily see other travelers on similar journeys, each with destinations that are close to ours.

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