Peace Comes from Respecting One Another--Just because vs. Just being

April 2015 has been a very interesting month. Beginning with the "Give Seven Days" Interfaith Program on April 7; St. Paul Theological School of Theology at Church of the Resurrection,  Engaging World Religions: People of the Book on April 14Greater Kansas City Interfaith Council Tables of Faith Dinner on April 21, Speaking on "Unity with Diversity" at Park University, to participating in the Asian Cultural Festival on April 25 and finally completing the month with the Syed Farrukh Shabbir, MD Memorial Scholarship sponsored by the Crescent Peace Society (

"Give Seven Days" was a remembrance for the three victims of a horrible tragedy that happened in on April 13, 2014 at the Jewish Community Campus and Village Shalom in Overland Park, Kansas. William Corporon, 69, his grandson Reat Underwood, 14, and Terri LaManno, 53, were gunned down last spring. A self-described anti-Semite is accused of the killings. These individuals weren't Jewish, but anyone who were  at these Jewish facilities were targeted. I have been at these facilities many times. The tragedy comes from several places. 1. there was an individual who hated a faith group just because and took a criminal action targeted at this group, 2. a grandfather and a grandson attending a musical event on a Sunday afternoon are gone, 3. a wife/mother/daughter visiting her mother on a Sunday afternoon is gone. 4. Anyone of us can be targeted just because.  All senseless.

But the victims’ families, friends and community leaders were resolved and didn't want this act of violence be what is only remembered. Instead, they organized a week long remembrance called Seven Days. The goal was that society has the power to outshine and overcome senseless acts of hate. SevenDays is a challenge for young and old, to embrace diversity across races, religions and cultures. Through three events, Faith, Love & SongFaith, Love & Kindness and Faith, Love & Walk, to promote understanding and encourage kindness to Make a Ripple to Change the World. 

Mindy Corporon, daughter of the father and mother to the teenage son reached out to me and wanted people of different faiths to participate in the event.  Upon more brainstorming, Rev. Vern Barnet (founder) and Mary McCoy (convener) of the Greater Kansas City Interfaith Council pulled together several of us to kick off the Seven Days with "Love".

Tables of Faith event has been occurring since 2005. (I was the co-chair of the first two programs). The Greater Kansas City Interfaith Council (GKCIC) since 1989, has been  breaking  barriers amongst all faiths and religious traditions by creating a community based on cultural knowledge, respect, appreciation and trust. This year’s theme "One Family, One World, One Future" recognized that, together we are moving into a future filled with hope. What a delight to see approximately 400 people of at least 20 faith groups in one large banquet room being-- just being! The vision of the Council is "Building the Most Welcoming Community For All People".  More pictures are at

For the last two years, Kristen Kvam, Associate Professor of Theology at Saint Paul School of Theology, has been teaching a course called, Engaging World Religions: People of the Book. Sheila Sonnenschein (Jewish), Nancy Pauls (Christian-Methodist) and myself, re-inact the Faith Club where we answer questions posed by the students regarding our faith such as: What are some common stereotypes of your faith?, How/Why/What do you pray?, What does living out your faith look like in your daily life? I always enjoy doing a program like this, because I can see how the adult learners start changing their paradigm of what they thought was "true" about another faith.

Park University, in conjunction with The Greater Kansas City Interfaith Council (GKCIC), hosted a “Unity Within Diversity” discussion on Wednesday, April 22, at the  University’s Parkville Campus.  The dialogue included a trio of panelists: myself representing GKCIC Islam director at-large and adjunct instructor of health administration at Park University; Luis M Flores, Jr., GKCIC Buddhism Alternate Director; and Barry Speert, GKCIC Judaism director at-large. We presented an overview of our respective faiths and our work in the community promoting diversity appreciation and awareness, followed by a question-and-answer session. This event was organized by senior Sarah Stout whose senior interdisciplinary studies project was address xenophobia (Dictionary definitions of xenophobia include: "deep-rooted, irrational hatred towards foreigners" (Oxford English Dictionary; OED), and "unreasonable fear or hatred of the unfamiliar" (Webster's). Pretty cool for a senior don't you think! Just being!

More pictures can be found at

On April 25, The Asian Cultural Festival is expecting approximately 3000 attendees with programming representing 15 countries from Asia. What an exciting place it will be at Olathe East High School to see cultural dancing, food, exhibits, music, martial arts demonstrations and more. Just being!

And then finally, the deadline for the Syed Farrukh Shabbir, MD Scholarship is on April 30 (more information can be found on clicking here).  The Crescent Peace Society in 2006 established this memorial scholarship in the name of my husband Syed Farrukh Shabbir, M.D.  This is a 500- word essay contest that will be awarded to a college bound graduating senior who has written the most compelling essay about the importance of peace and understanding in a pluralistic world. This will be the ninth year for this scholarship. I wonder what those students back in 2006, 2007, 2008 are doing today?? I would like to have a reunion of all past winners at the 10 year anniversary in 2016. I hope these students are building peace through respecting one another. Just being!

All this in 30 days, the month of April, Spring--the beginning of life.

My question to you now is, "What are you doing to build peace"? Just being!