I am a non-Muslim and a non-Christian: I am a woman of indigenous spirituality. I teach at a school for living traditions, meaning the culture of the traditional community. We can survive amid war, but we need to teach peace and find ways to live in peace with our natural environment. We need to teach our children that life involves air, water, fish, trees, spirits, and teach them about the value of nature as the spirit of God, and about respecting nature. Without this, we will lose our cultural heritage and our identity.
We need to teach meditation, arbitration and skills for living together. We need to teach about the balance between rights and responsibilities, that no one person is above another, and that everyone has good and bad elements. Harmony has been successfully achieved in our community. To establish harmony, we need laws, including customary laws. This includes recognising and respecting others just as we recognise and respect ourselves. We impose customary laws as a way to provide peace and settle misunderstandings through dialogue. In customary law, we also refer to Magbayan which refers to the state of the world at the time of creation.
In promoting interfaith relationships, we can achieve harmony by using our senses. Because of the land, water, fish and other resources, all of us survive. But to survive equally, we need to share things equally. To have interfaith understanding, we always remember what we call the ancestral domain story, which says that when God created the world, he shared everything equally.
We believe that this is enough – more that enough – to live harmoniously with others regardless of faith and race. It is always important to remember and put into practice the idea of recognition and respect of other people’s rights and responsibilities without suppression, oppression and domination.
Bai Liza Saway from Mindanao, a teacher and a member of Mothers for Peace.
An edited extract from a sharing stories session at Progressio’s regional workshop on women, faith and peace, in Timor Leste.
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