Passion, energy, and dreams animate youth to see beyond their current realities. What exists today doesn’t have to exist tomorrow. Likewise, what doesn’t exist today can begin to be built tomorrow.

In a challenge to the current reality of rising religious intolerance following riots and suicide bombings by religious extremists, Global Peace Foundation Indonesia initiated the Peace Talk program. In a safe space, Indonesian youth renew and redirect their energy and drive. Christian and Muslim youth dream of the kind of Indonesia they want to build – together.

The rise of fake news and thinning consensus around long-standing Indonesian values stemming from a shared cultural heritage, language, traditions, and local wisdom have made the country more vulnerable to the spread of extreme radicalism.

"peace talks", people from different religious background, interfaith dialogue and discussion

Global Peace Foundation “peace talks” invites young people from different religious background to participate in interfaith dialogue and discussion in peacebuilding.

“There needs to be a common awareness to maintain the unity in diversity that exists in Indonesia,” said one Peace Talk participant. Interfaith dialogue and engagement is a powerful practice to strengthen not only tolerance but to create respect and care for others beyond lines of identity.

The first Nusantara Peace Talk program took place on May 19. Based on Indonesia’s motto, Bhinneka Tunggal Ika (Unity in Diversity), the peace talk program draws on noble Indonesian values, Pancasila, to promote collaboration amongst the younger generation to strengthen their sense of national identity and the rich diversity that makes their nation great.

The space allows young people to share their stories and experiences of tolerance and diversity in their communities as it relates to Indonesia’s principles of democracy. Over a meal, participants shared traditional performances, musical recitals, and even poetry.

Ulfi, a young Muslim participant, was cautious at first, yet later gladly shared her feelings of relief. She said she felt a “sense of space and calm” when she met people who respect religious differences with the end goal of peace.

Saverius Jena is a Catholic student studying in Jakarta. He commented on the simple act of sharing meals together. “Rice is a medium that brings us together,” he said. Quick to make friends with Muslim students, Saverius explained how his deep conversations with his Muslim friends convinced him that no matter what some outlying extremists might do, religions all fundamentally teach goodness.

Peace Talks are providing youth with a space to share their stories, and build kinship and deeper understanding with friends of various faith backgrounds based on their shared values.

Do you have a place to build unity and peace based on shared values in your own community?

If not, why not start one up today?

The original post appears on Global Peace Foundation. Global Peace Foundation is an international non-sectarian, non-partisan, nonprofit organization, which promotes an innovative, values-based approach to peacebuilding, guided by the vision of One Family under God.  GPF engages and organizes a global network of public and private-sector partners who develop community, national, and regional peace building models as the foundation for ethical and cohesive societies. Dr. Hyun Jin Preston Moon is founder and chairman of the Global Peace Foundation.