The 2nd annual Cincinnati Festival of Faiths was held Sunday, Sept. 8 and featured a variety of over 25 faith communities from our region all coming together to share their practices, beliefs, differences and common interests.
Did you know there are a local group of Zoroastrians? That’s right, even one of the world’s oldest religions and lesser-known ones these days, was represented among the neatly arranged booths of 100 exhibits.
A chosen representative from each faith that was present, joined in a semicircle on the stage for a formal opening in which they each had a chance to say some words, a prayer, song or invocation. It was really quite beautiful to see so many cultural and philosophical differences share the same stage, microphone and core values of human decency.
There was gospel singing. There was traditional dancing of several kinds. There were even martial arts displays. Although it seemed a unanimous favorite was the free and delicious Sikh food outside in the parking lot. So many different shades of skin all smiling and eating together in vastly different clothing, just being happy and human, was an objectively good thing.
Numerous studies have been conducted in tolerance research and it seems to be a unanimous consensus: exposure to different kinds of people and ways of thought irrefutably breeds tolerance and compassion.
Exposure and education.
In this time of rampant gun violence in our country which trumps that of any first-world nation, events such as these could prove an investment in the future of our culture. The one our children must also raise children within.
The trick is to get those children to attend events which promote these values. The idea would be to bring an event like this into the inner city as well as rural areas, though typically events centers are found in the suburban middle ground. Food for thought.
As far as common interests go, violence was a hot button issue that only furthered the feeling of unity. Each and every one of the nearly 3000 souls in attendance at this event were undoubtedly shaken by the recent events in Dayton and the compassion in the Cintas Center was irrefutably louder than the differences.
Randy Bell of Butler County Pagan Gatherings could be overheard spreading the word about “Walk the Path of Peace,” a nondenominational event to stop the violence to which he made a point to personally invite everyone with whom he spoke.
Whether you’re Russian Orthodox, Mennonite, Pagan, Zoroastrian or undecided it seems that there is something inherently character-building about believing in something bigger and more powerful than the folly of our own humanity.
Even if one doesn’t believe in all the specifics or literal interpretations of a religious doctrine, there is no denying that a sense of connectedness and community centered around values, rather than accomplishments, is a healthy and beneficial quality for all. And there’s no denying that if whatever faith you were raised in doesn’t quite feel right to you, there are plenty out there to choose from and they would be happy to welcome you into their community.
If this event interests you, follow the Cincinnati Festival of Faiths’ Facebook page for updates on next year’s festivities.