Looking back at 2013, there were a tremendous number of events and occurrences that took place, with religion at the forefront–from the resignation of one pope to the rise of another, to issues regarding the church and state, and to a deeper awareness of religious persecution. This year has had its fair share of ups and downs. More than just recalling the actual events, however, it is through the very words of the individuals who experienced them, that we are provided insight into the world of religion.
“Even more important to me than my attackers being caught is that they are taught. My tradition teaches me to value justice and accountability, and it also teaches me love, compassion and understanding.” –Prabhjot Singh
While young men shouted “Get Osama” as they attacked him, this Columbia University professor responded with words that led to more progressive discussions of religions such as Sikhism. What started as a hate crime ended with a campaign that brought a deeper understanding of the religion.
“I would not shoot him. This is the compassion that I have learnt from Muhammad-the prophet of mercy, Jesus Christ and Lord Buddha. This is the legacy of change that I have inherited from Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela and Muhammad Ali Jinnah. This is the philosophy of nonviolence that I have learnt from Gandhi Jee, Bacha Khan and Mother Teresa. And this is the forgiveness that I have learnt from my mother and father. This is what my soul is telling me, be peaceful and love everyone.” –Malala Yousafzai
After making a full recovery from her life-threatening injuries, Malala Yousafzai worked even harder this year to promote the very cause she risked her life for. As the Taliban attempted to silence this 16 year-old girl, her words continued to be heard louder and clearer, even at an address given to the United Nations, inspiring many women to hope in a world of education for all.
“Dear friends, never forget that you are the field of faith! You are Christ’s athletes! You are called to build a more beautiful Church and a better world.” –Pope Francis
In the midst of the loud cheers of millions of young adults in Rio de Janeiro, a still stern voice contained the heart of a father for his beloved children. Pope Francis spoke with confidence and faith, instilling a sense of pride and ownership of the religion to the Catholic youth as well as entrusting the future of the faith to them.
Through the words of these three individuals, they represent the religions of Sikhism, Islam, and Catholicism, and–more importantly–a common desire for lasting change.