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Mohammad Christian Goldberg was the host of my table at St. Paul’s Cathedral

Photo provided
Reverend William Tabbernee, Nyla Ali Khan and Mike Korenblit.
Fertile Ground Compost Service

EDMOND, Okla. – In my writings on mitigating conflict, I have been underlining that  new efforts and new forums as well as the germination of new ideas, broad based coalition politics that transcends organizational divides and required all over the world, which would give civil society the space and leeway to make their voices heard about important political decisions. That’s the reason I have been intrigued by and drawn to the strong tradition of interfaith understanding and engagement that the Oklahoma Conference of Churches emphasizes. 

So, this morning I made my way around the labyrinthine and intriguing St. Paul’s Cathedral in Oklahoma City. I had the honor of being invited to the breakfast banquet held by the Oklahoma Conference of churches at the Cathedral, and, as always, I was thrilled at the opportunity of interacting with people of various religious, political, and ideological inclinations. Reverend Tabbernee, courteously, escorted me to table 3, and the card on my table said that my host was Mohammad Christian Goldberg, a name that epitomizes a lyrical interfaith alliance.

I have always believed that the most effective way to make an interfaith perspective viable in American society would be for state as well as non-state actors to pursue the task of not just incorporating and improving the positions of their organizations within civil society, but also by forging connections between their agendas and strategies for interfaith engagement, advocacy work, and reconstruction of society with the strategies and agendas of other sections of the populace impacted by xenophobia and bigotry. It is imperative that civil society actors work in collaboration with one another to focus on the rebuilding of a greatly polarized and fragmented social fabric to ensure the redress of inadequate political participation and resumption of access to basic social services, particularly healthcare and education. Although my religious leaning is not the same as that of Reverend William Tabbernee, his ideological leaning and postcolonial lens strike a chord with me, which is why I found myself nodding vigorously when he articulated the necessity of using our privilege to counter the voices of rancor, hate, and malice that have been entrenching false dichotomies in our society. I cannot emphasize enough the wisdom of manifesting the abstract notions of harmony, understanding, and peace in concrete relationships, practical development, and intersectional political alliances.

Given my interest in the revival and reinvigoration of civil society institutions that could initiate groups to assemble freely and express shared interests, values, and purposes in my homeland, Kashmir, I talked with Kim Moyer, State Director for Marsy’s Law for Oklahoma. Kim, graciously, apprised me about her role as a facilitator in terms of pulling a diverse group of people together, a nigh impossible task, which requires diligence and commitment. Kim has been working with the Oklahoma Conference of Churches to develop effective strategies for advocacy as well as communication with people on the outside. Advocacy groups in the OCC are not cloistered, but voice the concerns of those who are impacted by the decisions of our political actors and policy makers. Mobilizing citizens for effective and productive change is a difficult task, but forging a rapport between elected representatives and their constituents creates a stake for the latter in the growth and progress of the state, which is where advocacy work comes in. I have been concerned about the frayed sociopolitical and ethnic fabric of civil society in Kashmir, so it was enlightening for me to hear about how the various faith communities, which OCC comprises, track the legislation at the Oklahoma House of Representatives on the issues of poverty, environment, education, health, and criminal justice. The OCC is open to peaceful coalitions, diplomacy, and concretizes my faith in, I reiterate, initiating groups to assemble freely and express shared interests, values, and purposes.

Representative George Young, who was at the breakfast banquet as well, underscored the importance of standing up and being counted. He reiterated the import of constituents calling and communicating with their representatives in order to facilitate change for the greater good. Amen to that!

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About the Author

Nyla Ali Khan

Nyla Ali Khan is the author of Islam, Women, and Violence in Kashmir: Between India and...

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About Red Dirt Report

Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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