I am by nature a skeptic. Routinely, I over analyze and over think, what to many would be simple problems. So obviously when I arrived in DC for the IFYC Leadership Institute, I had lingering doubt as to the prospects of an interfaith movement of this scale actually working. The Better Together campaign is a campaign of such scale and such ambition that it’s hard to wrap your mind around what the IFYC is really pushing for at first. The thought that kept on running through my mind as we entered our first session was people have been deeply divided across religious lines for literally thousands of years; what are a group of 100 college students going to do about that?
By Saturday night I had an answer to my question that erased my cynicism and satisfied the skeptic. It came from the simplicity of the IFYC message and a short but important conversation with my roommate for the weekend.
The idea that we should focus on our shared values while embracing each other’s differences in order to work for the common good is beautiful in its simplicity and revolutionary in its implications. But, as we all know, a message is nothing but words on a paper if it cannot inspire action and have some sort of real world results.
These real world results are what I was looking for and what I craved. I got my real world results on Saturday morning while getting ready to head out to Georgetown with my roommate for the weekend. He made a comment in passing that in his many years of traveling he had never stayed in a hotel with someone that was not of his faith. I was worried that he was feeling a touch uneasy, but all my fears were gone when he said with a sincere smile: “this works Adam”.
In three words he summed up everything that was right with interfaith. Here was a middle aged Muslim and an atheist college student sharing a room; we were not just tolerating each other, but legitimately enjoying each other’s company. This was not forced. This was wholly organic. For me this turned into a microcosm of everything that the interfaith movement can and should be.
It wasn’t until a couple hours later that I realized that the skeptic inside of me had been satisfied and silenced. This Better Together campaign can work. And, if I have anything to say about it, it will work. We will change the world. We can and will be better together.
– Adam Garner, Interfaith in Action