Campus & Community / Magazine Feature

Bridges lecture series closes year with message of peace

Citizens of every culture and religion must act locally to support the paradigm shift necessary to mitigate global conflict, according to Marc Gopin, author of Holy War, Holy Peace.

Gopin, director of George Mason University’s Center on Religion, Diplomacy and Conflict Resolution, discussed his book at the final Bridges to the Future event of the year on May 9. He focused on the topic of religion as a catalyst to conflict and the individual efforts of global citizens to achieve peace.

“We are still in a primitive stage in terms of global community,” Gopin said.

He explained that religion and culture play integral roles in how citizens of the world communicate. He believes that understanding individual interaction within a neighborhood is a step toward changing the worldwide system of diplomacy.

Holy War, Holy Peace is centered on Gopin’s work in the Middle East, but his keynote speech offered insight to worldwide conflict resulting from religious differences and cultural misunderstandings.

“History is changing now, with an intricate situation balancing the will of people and the will of nations,” Gopin said. “There are heroic people in every religion and every culture who are weaving together peace.”

He asserted that a peaceful global community must be based on deep trust beginning from an individual level. To act globally, he said U.S. citizens must first engage in conversation with their neighbors and communities and form meaningful relationships.

Gopin was ordained as a rabbi at Yeshiva University in 1983 and received a PhD in religious ethics from Brandeis University in 1993. As a senior researcher at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy’s Institute for Human Security, his research focuses on the international problems of globalization, the clash of cultures and value-based social justice.

This year’s Bridges to the Future lecture series focused on “The Pursuit of Peace.” In addition to Gopin, this year’s three-part speaker series featured lectures by former Senator George Mitchell and Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Jendayi Frazer.

DU created the Bridges to the Future program in 2002 to stimulate community dialogue in response to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

The theme for the 2007–08 Bridges to the Future series will be announced soon on the Bridges to the Future Web site.

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