Padang (Fides Service) – The situation is not only one of violence and conflict in the tormented island of Sumatra where the army is waging a vast campaign to suppress separatists, there are also experiences of dialogue, peace and hope.
“Youth: we put all our hope in our youth. They are able to put aside hatred and prejudice and to build relations with other in simplicity and friendship”. Bishop Martinus Situmorang of Padang tells Fides.
In this spirit recently young people of different religions, Christians, Buddhists and Muslims and also of different ethnic groups came together to reflect on the theme “Unmasking prejudice, stereotypes and scars” organised by the Centre of Studies for Relations among Communities in Padang, an organisation which promotes dialogue among people of different religions and different ethnic groups.
The participants, mostly university and college students, coming from all over the island of Sumatra, started out identifying the prejudices and stereotypes which label their own and other groups. This allowed them to relate to each other with sincerity and to overcome obstacles which often prevent authentic relationships. “Prejudice is a source of conflict” one of the young participants said; “authentic religious faith does not lead to violence” a young Muslim said, who admitted that before the meeting he was suspicious of people belonging to other religions.
During the meeting the young people also prayed and shared faith experiences, and they all committed themselves to living Indonesia’s national motto: Unity in Diversity”.
“Young people know how to help one another and they can build a future of peace for Sumatra, for Indonesia and for the whole world” Bishop Situmorang concluded. PA (Fides Service 17/9/2003 EM lines 38 Words: 478)