In recent days a group of young people from the Buddhist Rissho Kosei Movement concluded their visit in Italy, for an encounter with youths of the Focolare Movement. This was the third such meeting. A dozen young Japanese spent a week in Italy with meetings for dialogue with other youths from around the world. The program began on the first of May with the traditional Youth Day at Loppiano, a small town of the Focolare Movement near Florence. The contribution of the Japanese delegation greatly enriched the event not only by giving it a religious flavour, but also by engaging the participants in the collection of signatures for the Arms Down Project, launched last November by the Religions for Peace in Costa Rica and by several other youth organizations including Rissho Kosei Kai and Youth for a United World of the Focolare Movement.
Then there was a day-long symposium held at the Mariapolis Centre in Castelgandolfo on the commitment to build peace. The perspectives of the two religions emerged in the light of the experience of the two movements which highlight how compassion and love are such masterful ways to building the value of peace, first in one’s own heart and, then, transmitting it to those around us. The moment in which people shared their life experiences was particularly engaging and touched deep chords in the life of the young people. The experience of a young Christian from Colombia who, trying to preserve forgiveness in her soul for those who had killed her father when she was a girl of eleven, was able to find peace in heart and hold on to her father’s memory without being filled with rancor. Her experience echoed that of a young Buddhist with serious family problems, who told how he understood the importance of family for someone who was at least still lucky enough to have one.
As mentioned, these meetings have been taking place for three years and they are creating an interfaith network of friendship and brotherhood which is both intercultural and international. This is real education for peace which Benedict XVI himself encouraged during the audience which was attended by the youths. “Keep it up!” was his comment to the two leaders of the delegation, who were able to greet him personally. It was precious advice for the future of these initiatives.