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Nurturing Inter- and Trans-Faith (ITF)  Relationships 

M. Nadarajah

LES Multiversity/Loyola Extension Services

Loyola College of Social Sciences/December 2023

A society that discovers how to free itself from avoidable ‘inter-trans-faith’ (ITF) prejudices, monologues, miscommunications, and disputes must make the initial move towards knowledgeable, caring, and compassionate cohabitation—from simple tolerance to profound comprehension, celebration of diversity, acceptance, and collaboration between peoples and their groups. Whether individually or collectively, we can decide to imagine, create, strive towards, and actively foster a more friendly, kind, and peaceful world.

Promote ITF Conversation and Dialogue 
To domesticate cultural or religious strangeness, create hospitable spaces for people to come together and feel each other’s presence. Building a culture of coexistence and cohabitation requires these kinds of encounters. Encourage believers of all faiths to listen deeply and communicate with one another in a courteous and open manner. With the mindset of a dialogical encounter. Provide forums or areas where people can express their ideas, convictions, pursuits, and life experiences. Set up physical areas for ITF communal gatherings.

Encourage Religious and Cultural Literacy in Education
Develop educational programmes and learning journeys that initiate tolerance and move on to promote comprehensive appreciation of the co-presence of cultures, beliefs, and customs. Deeply explore and learn from each other's religious social teachings. By incorporating all these into their operations, communities, organisations, companies, and educational institutions may all consistently align, promote, and strengthen the culture of cohabitation. Offer children and youth cross-socio-religious immersion experiences. Create a human library of persons who are champions of inter-faith co-existence as well as those who are trans-faith in orientation (aligned to local syncretic traditions).

Respect for Variety, Cultural Hybridisation and Syncretism
Respect and accept differences and the dignity of 'Others'. Re-evaluate and enrich the ‘Othering’ processes and cultures. Emphasise the existential and survival value of diversity and the richness it brings to communities and individual co-existence and experience. Strengthen mutual appreciation for and understanding of the great diversity of cultures across the world. Recognise people who experience ‘trans-religiousity’ as they are able to travel seamlessly between religious spheres or ecologies. Honour cross-cultural and trans-cultural relationships and beings. Arrange and celebrate religious and cultural festivals together to promote mutual sensitivity, awareness, and appreciation. Involve children and young people. Make an effort to partake in the happiness and joy of people of other religious and spiritual traditions. Partake in other people’s life events (birth, marriage, death, etc).
Promote ITF Initiatives and Cross-Faith Projects
Encourage collaborations, partnerships, and cooperative initiatives between people of different faiths. Support environmental, ecological, humanitarian, and community services and livelihood initiatives and programmes that unite people of different religious backgrounds, encouraging collaboration to systematically serve and achieve common co-habitation and co-existence goals. Protect, nurture, and celebrate cultural hybridisation and syncretism. Encourage a mutually agreed-upon vision for the community that promotes cultural co-creation and development. Create and participate in interfaith networks and organisations that aim to bring people together. Assist in establishing national, local, and neighbourhood interfaith networks and platforms. Over time, these platforms have the power to significantly improve understanding, collaboration, and cohabitation.
Be Sensitive to Stereotypes, Prejudices, and Grounds for Conflicts 
Use fact-based narratives to gently refute and/or de-sensitise individuals and groups of stereotypes. Attempt to dispel myths and bring attention to the many misconceptions that exist about different religions and their communities. Handle 'motivated' cutural-and-religious-centred phobias with care. Interrogate, confront, and neutralise prejudice. Watch out for false information or fake news. Check and counter-check social media postings. Encourage critical thinking, comprehension, connectivity, and a compassionate attitude. Make this an integral part of educational programmes. Form strong community groups, like-minded opinion makers, and community elders as part of your effort. Avoid being alone in caring campaigns against prejudice and motivated phobias. Creatively construct and popularise alternative narratives and stories.
Advocate for Mindful Inclusive Policies and Legal Instruments
These are crucial for national and local governments, organisations, and establishments. Advocate for policies and laws that promote active inclusion and protect the rights and dignity of individual adherents of all religious traditions. Evaluate existing laws that may inadvertently go against the culture of co-existence/cohabitation. Collectively, make sense of how to address religiously sensitive historical wrongs, harm, and hurt. Encourage fair representation, chances, and opportunities for everyone while carefully taking into account any disadvantages based on historical, social, cultural, or religious factors. Accommodate like-minded policymakers and lawyers in any effort for authentic community coexistence. Create groupings of such people from the community.
Build Bridges with Shared Meanings, Virtues, and Values 
Examine potential areas of agreement and intersections that offer opportunities to build cultures of compassionate coexistence. Encourage morals, ethics, and meaningful communication. Emphasise virtues and values that individuals from diverse faith backgrounds share, such as justice, compassion, and love. Draw strength from existing practices and institutions that promote shared meaning, virtues, and values. Popularise them. Draw attention to the histories, institutions, practices, and stories that bring people together. But be actively mindful of differences and distinctions.
Enhance ITF Stories and Narratives Popularity 
Encourage the mainstream and alternative media to carefully consider portrayals of different religious communities through mindful, wholesome narratives. Develop ‘ITF journalism’. Develop ‘ITF citizen journalism’. Such forms of journalism help increase the circulation of facts, case studies, and micro-narratives of necessary and peaceful coexistence. Publicise information that emphasises cooperation and harmony, even in times of conflict, as important signs of our humanity. Also share stories of how differences have been overcome, negotiated, managed, and lived through with patience, maturity, and reconciliation. It is critical to popularise such narratives and stories. Work through mainstream as well as alternative and social media. Create a community media channel for this purpose. Also, promote locally-sensitive publications.
Stress Individual Responsibility 
Set good personal examples through shared stories. Sustained and active human encounters in times of peace and strife can play a significant role in promoting awareness, understanding, reconciliation, and peace. Diversify encounters and enrich personal experiential fields. Diversify friendship circles. Lead by example. Engage in civil conversations. Remain open to learning new orientations and ways that encourage coexistence, cohabitation, and celebration. Showcase and popularise such ways, or individuals and communities that live their everyday lives guided by such ways.
Address the Root Causes of Discord or Failings in Veracity, and Peacemaking 
Examine historical, social, cultural, and economic factors that contribute to and maintain religious and communal strife, then take the necessary measures mindfully. Work with and through groups, as it is a difficult process when emotions run wild. Mobilise professionals as well as broad-minded elders to examine and resolve disputes and advance truthfulness, dialogue, negotiation on disputes, and reconciliation. Work on deep healing from historical hurt and painful memories. Make an effort to create a society that discourages monol
ogue, blind atavism, or chauvinism but encourages one that is more just, equitable, and safe for everybody.
Promote Followers as well as Leaders to Strengthen ITF Initiatives
Provide leadership and followership development programmes. Responsible and ethical leadership breeds good followership, and vice versa. Individuals who promote, lead, and assist ITF communication and cohabitation/coexistence within and among their communities ought to be recognised, supported, trained, encouraged, and sustained. Their efforts also need to become part of the media and educational interventions and programmes. Encourage children, youth, journalists, academics, activists, and public intellectuals.
In building a culture beyond religious phobia, discrimination, and violence in our local, national, and global society, individuals, communities, and institutions must strive tirelessly and consistently. It is a hard, passionate, and compassionate effort. It means cultivating an ecology of deep understanding, respect, and appreciation for the range of rich and diverse experiences and opinions that people have and live by. Amidst this, we need new, inspiring stories that foster emancipation, reconciliation, and peace. We need to help a compassionate, direct, and dialogical democracy

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