Every Voice – Charles Gibbs

3 April 2018
Charles Gibbs

The Reverend Charles Gibbs, URI’s founding Executive Director

By words and actions, people all over the world give voice to URI. Their voices remind us what URI means and inspire even more of us to speak out and spread URI’s message.

Words of wisdom never wear out! Prior to his retirement, the Reverend Charles Gibbs, URI’s founding Executive Director, offered these words of wisdom in a speech entitled Interfaith Cooperation for Peace, Justice and Healing: A Global Perspective. From the perspective of 17 years building URI’s global community, Charles spoke about how cooperative engagement among people of diverse religions, spiritualities and Indigenous traditions can weave a new fabric of mutual respect and a shared positive future locally, nationally, regionally and globally.

Here, in summary, and with gratitude for the education I’ve received in my seventeen years with URI and for John Paul Lederach’s insights about the Moral Imagination:

  • Each of us is precious and essential to this world. We are made in light and love, by the Source of Light and Love (known by many names and no name; known in words, through art, in the wonder of nature and in the depths of stillness). And we are called to be light and love in the world.
  • In our efforts to manifest light and love, in our personal lives, in our communities and in the world, we are not alone – we are interconnected and interdependent. We need each other.
  • We are held in hands much bigger than our own, supported and guided by the Source of Light and Love.
  • It is not required of us to complete the grand work of repairing the world, but we must do our unique part to contribute to this work.
  • Doing this work, individually and collectively, requires an act of the imagination that is firmly rooted in the ground. Our vision for the future we wish to co-create must be connected to the challenging realities of the present. We need wings and feet.
  • To walk our flight of imagination into being, we must build a web of relationships that includes everyone in microcosm – not only those we relate to easily, who see things the way we do, but also those we have trouble relating to, those we may see as our enemies.
  • We must avoid the trap of creating polarities that make some people right and others wrong, and be willing to entertain the complexities and ambiguities of the realities we face, both the realities we cherish and the realities we wish to transform.
  • We must cultivate our capacity for creativity – to entertain previously unimagined possibilities that can transform challenges into opportunities.
  • We must be willing to risk, especially to risk moving from the security of the known into the uncertainty of the unknown that beckons on the path to transformation.
  • We each have a unique and valued contribution to make as we journey together on the path to transformation. Along the way, we are called to live each day, to take each step in wonder, gratitude and service.