by Project Interfaith fall intern, Joshua Campbell
I have a question for you, “What will the world look like in 100 years?” Will the diseases that haunt us today be easily cured by new medicines? Will robots help us do all those chores and errands we hate? Will we finally get those flying cars they promised us all those years ago?
Personally, my first thought is a number: 10 billion. According to the UN’s Department of Economic and Social Affairs, the world population will be more than 10 billion by 2100. We only have 6 billion people on the planet right now, and we already have a hard time getting along and providing for everybody.
Even though we have come so far in the last hundred years, many of our challenges have changed little over the last thousand. The causes of war, violence, and hate are still found in distrust, discrimination, and ignorance. Natural disasters still have the power to destroy communities and intervene in our lives without warning. The suffering brought about by loneliness and hopelessness is felt the same today as it was at the dawn of civilization.
This is why the mission of Project Interfaith is so important to me. As we try to build the world our children and grandchildren will inherit, it is more vital than ever to bring everyone into the discussion, to understand each other, and to grow the relationships that will allow us to make a better future.
Currently, in many parts of the world, differing religious, cultural, and philosophical traditions act as a source of division. But this is not the way it has to be. The religious and philosophical traditions of every civilization emerged as a way to face the challenges of the human condition. All have served as a source of inspiration, strength, and wisdom for people and all have something to contribute.
I have had the opportunity to experience the great variety of cultural, spiritual, and humanistic practices and philosophies in this world. Since I was a child, my interest in human diversity led me to constantly seek out new experiences that would allow me to learn and grow. This has led me to travel back and forth across the globe, endeavoring to discover and understand.
I have seen how my grandmother’s faith has given her the strength to overcome the many troubles she has faced in life. I have witnessed in Japan how religious communities can be inclusive without being meaningless, as people choose to celebrate births and festivals at the Shinto shrine, practice Confucian values in their daily life, get married in a Christian church, and mourn the passing of loved ones at Buddhist temples. I have learned from the Existentialist and Positivist philosophical traditions the responsibility of living in this world and the importance of understanding the world through human experience. And I have found, as I meet people from every corner of the globe, that the images, expectations, and feelings about different identities and communities I had developed as a child watching American TV were replaced by the faces of my friends and the memories of what we had shared.
So, what will the world look like in 100 years? I can’t answer this question alone. I need your help. This is why I choose to work for Project Interfaith and why I will continue to work to create to a community where all feel welcome - no matter what they believe or do not believe - and where we can all share and learn from one another. I hope you will join me in this adventure.
Joshua graduated from the University of Nebraska at Omaha in 2011 with a degree in International Studies and Political Science. After studying abroad in Japan and South Korea, he volunteered extensively with the UNO international community. During this time he earned Nonprofit Leadership Alliance's National Certification in Nonprofit Management and Leadership. With a passion for nonprofit work and a dedication to engaging issues concerning cultural and religious diversity, Joshua felt Project Interfaith was a natural place to start his career and help the community.