Read here Dalias reflection on Interfaith week 2018:
I don’t like horror films. That’s a fact. Anyone who knows me, knows I refuse to watch them, and so when I found myself on the sofa in a forceful intervention by my housemates to watch the new Netflix horror, ‘Haunting of Hill House’, I was not happy, to say the least. Each episode was filled with twists, dark foreboding music and loud shrieking (mostly mine).
Every time something unexpected or frightening occurred my instant reaction was to shut my eyelids tight and hide in the pillow. Surviving the series, I took a look back on my reaction to these situations and I realised that this is what our natural instinct as humans is to do. When we fear something, we want it gone. I saw something which threatened the calm around me and I shut myself off until it disappeared.
Instead of understanding why we fear something, we just react.
When I first began interfaith work in Leeds, last year, I did it because I wanted to escape this bubble I had created around myself. It was safe and familiar. I have spent so many years of my life wondering about the outside world; how and why people react the way they do, but I never questioned myself and my own actions. The more I continue with interfaith work the more I recognise its importance in shaping the opinions of those who participate and those who see it happening around them.
That is why Interfaith Week is so significant; a national initiative created with the sole purpose of strengthening inter faith relations, at all levels, and increasing awareness of faith communities and understanding between religious and non-religious people. It has become a means for a group of people who hold a different belief system to meet together to find common ground and make that extra effort to understand one another. Rather than reacting to the unknown, we escape that ‘familiar’ and put ourselves in situations where we are forced to engage in controversial conversation to help further our society and our appreciation of other cultures.
Looking back over the past week, the scope of events we put on in Leeds and the range of people who connected with one another. We achieved, what I hope will be, a long-lasting impact. One in which there is a shared understanding that we are not as divisive a people as originally thought, that the blood in our veins is the same colour no matter what country you are from or what faith you belong to.
Following that, it is clear to reason that interfaith work should not stop here. The advantage of holding interfaith week so early in the first term, allows us to use it as a stepping stone to encourage interfaith relations on all levels, throughout the year.
I’m hoping to continue organising a variety of events, and to develop the relationships that have been formed over the past week. I hope this inspires others to reach out and begin connecting with those around them as well!
Dalia Landau, Leeds J-Soc