Why this World Religion Day matters more than ever

January 11, 2021

The need to believe in something bigger than ourselves is a human need. Regardless of colour, creed, or culture, the history of humanity is a history of searching for something unifying and timeless that adds meaning and richness to life. For centuries, religion has served that need.

Catholics, Christians, Muslims, Hindus, and Jews may all follow different religions and practice different beliefs, but they are universally bonded by a common theme — their faith.

Faith is the light that never goes out, the beacon in the darkest night, the anchor in the stormiest seas, and the shelter in the fiercest storm. Faith is what gives us the courage to do the right thing without reward or recognition, to stand stoic and unwavering in the face of scorn, and to hold fast to our beliefs and convictions when pushed to the limits of our endurance.

Faith is the consolation of the lonely, the balm for a wounded soul, the strength that can turn any tide, and the voice inside that urges us to carry on when all seems hopeless and lost. Faith has the courage of a lion, the might of a mountain, and burns as fierce as the brightest star. It is a bottomless well of inspiration and nourishment we can all draw upon, and it is the very essence of World Religion Day.

Held on the third Sunday in January every year, World Religion Day is a global celebration of universal faith and has one sole goal — to promote understanding and harmony.

The special day has a history that goes back to 1950. It was initiated in the United States by the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is and has grown to become a hugely significant date in the calendar of religions across the world.

World Religion Day aims to remind everyone that the spiritual principles underlying all faiths can act as a common ground for everyone. It seeks to end the hostility and misunderstandings between those of different beliefs and remind everyone of humanity’s essential oneness and the similarities that all faiths share. The next World Religion Day will be on Sunday, January 17, 2021, and will be particularly poignant after a year where no corner of the world has been left untouched by the ravages of the COVID-19 pandemic.

After a year where confusion and fear have reigned supreme, and the faith of people everywhere has been tested by a virus that doesn’t differentiate between countries or religious beliefs, it is more important than ever for everyone to work together and strive towards the greater good.

Only by forgetting our differences and concentrating on the similarities that bind us can we evolve and truly become the disciples our respective religions dictate.

World Religion Day is all about celebrating how faith enriches our lives and why religion has and continues to play such an integral part of the modern world. Religion not only connects us with one another and helps to foster the defining human traits of love, empathy, and respect, it also connects us to that elusive and infinite otherness that transcends all space and time. The belief in something bigger reminds us that we have a responsibility not just to one another, but to what came before and what will come after.

The responsibility of all religions is to practice tolerance, understanding, and to encourage all our brothers and sisters to reach their true potential, and become a force of positivity for the universal good. That is why you should celebrate World Religion Day this January.

As William Scott Downey once said, “Religion is the clearest telescope through which we can behold the beauties of creation.”

 

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