Written by Ida Eva Zielinska
On Friday, August 18, the last day of the Parliament of the World’s Religions (PoWR), 20 Tzu Chi volunteers and 11 Tzu Chi University students from Taiwan came together to give a sign language performance of the song “Give Love.” The sign language tradition at Tzu Chi began when Master Cheng Yen was doing home visits and met many deaf individuals, and realized that it’s essential for volunteers to learn a little sign language to communicate with them. Today, the tradition offers even more:
The Tzu Chi sign language performance on the closing day of the 2023 Parliament of the World’s Religions. Photos/Hector Muniente
“Interfaith Environmental & Gender Justice for the Human Right to a Healthy Environment”
The last session for the Tzu Chi delegation was the “Interfaith Environmental & Gender Justice for the Human Right to a Healthy Environment.” Environmental degradation is deeply intertwined with gender injustice, acting as an inequality multiplier to oppress women and girls. This session brought together an intergenerational panel of women from across different faiths and traditions to share case studies of positive actions undertaken by women and girls in all their diversity in climate-vulnerable communities that utilize the teachings of their religions and traditions to highlight the importance of adopting a values-based approach toward ensuring the human right to a healthy environment.
Yuru Chou, from the Buddhist Tzu Chi Charity Foundation, shared the panel with Kehkashan Basu from Green Hope Foundation, which organized the session, Beth Blissman from the Loretto Community, Saphira Rameshfar from the Baha’i International Community, and PoWR Board of Trustees members Mahrukh Motafram and Sahar Alsahlani.
The “Interfaith Environmental & Gender Justice for the Human Right to a Healthy Environment” panel. Photos/Hector Muniente
The Parliaments Draws to a Close
At the Closing Ceremony, through inspiring speeches, performances, and prayers, the global interfaith movement recommitted to a shared vision for the future and tangible actions needed to achieve it. By coming together for this final celebration, participants at the 2023 Parliament of the World’s Religions aimed to demonstrate that faith communities are united in all our diversity and committed to standing up for a more just, peaceful, and sustainable world.
Master Cheng Yen’s Address
Ven Shih De Yuan gave a brief introduction, saying, “Master Cheng Yen tells us that caring for the world requires the joint effort of many people. When everyone can come together, we can gradually bring harmony to people’s hearts and peace to society, and the world can become safe and free from disasters. Let’s listen to Master Cheng Yen’s teaching.”
Ven Shih De Yuan introduces Ven. Dharma Master Cheng Yen’s address at the closing ceremony of the 2023 PoWR. Photos/Hector Muniente
Ven. Dharma Master Cheng Yen shared her message with all assembled in a video entitled “Purifying Minds for a Peaceful World,” recorded at the Jing Si Abode in Hualien, Taiwan, where she resides. Her message highlighted how erratic climate conditions have harmed Mother Nature, saying our ever-increasing greed causes this. She called for promoting vegetarianism and encouraged people to adopt a plant-based diet. She also spoke about the many climate change-related natural disasters happening worldwide and about poverty, both of which leave people in need of assistance. She then presented examples of how a spirit of giving back or paying the help received forward transforms lives.
Ven. Dharma Master Cheng Yen’s message at the closing of the 2023 Parliament of the World’s Religions in Chicago. Photos/Jennifer Chien and Hector Muniente
Looking back at Tzu Chi’s presence at the 2023 Parliament of the World’s Religions, Debra Boudreaux, Tzu Chi USA CEO, said, “It’s been a long five days, but five in Chinese means “good karma.” We need to tell our communities what we achieved in the last five days. No matter whether Buddhist, Christian, or Muslim, everyone has a common message: “Be the change.”