Rmi Forum Charlottesville Chapter and American Turkish Friendship Association organized “Annual Peace and Dialog Dinner” on October 27, 2014 with theme of “Higher Education for A Better World”. The keynote speaker of the program was Delegate David Toscano.
In his speech, Delegate Toscano mentioned that he realized that there are commonalities between Rumi, Gandi, and Jefferson. He told Rumi’s statement “ I looked into my heart and found it there, only there and nowhere else” intrigued Gandi seeing it as an attempt to find spiritual peace and through personal reflection instead of embracing a traditionally organized religion and said that Jefferson has its own relation with God, a deeply personal one. Delegate Toscano continued by saying “Jefferson, Gandi and Rumi share a common view that we only complete ourselves by stepping outside ourselves by examining ourselves through contemplation and reflection. That is one of the reasons why universities are so important today. It is a way that people get outside themselves.”
Dr Ori Soltes from Georgetown University was the guest speaker of the program. Dr. Soltes told that “Rumi’s views inspired Fethullah Gulen, and those who inspired by him, with the logical consistency with being what you are, whatever that is, be it your religion be it your ethnicity, be it your nationality; and being a universalist, and recognizing that if God made so many of us, not no two of us but the like, then surely God did not expect there will be only one correct path to God but the fact that there are varied paths is part of God’s plan.” He also told that “Gulen not only says you need to think about and educate yourselves about different traditions but you have to act to make the world a better place”. He also highlighted that the education is cornerstone of the Hizmet Movement, which is inspired by Gulen.
The program ended with the final remarks of Dorrie Fontaine, Dean of School of Nursing at University of Virginia. She told that “I just want to applaud all of you for the peace that you are trying to achieve. We should start here in Charlottesville and have it spread and circle throughout the world”.
The proceeds of the events were directed to City of Promise, which is a Department of Education Promise Neighborhood initiative and a collaboration between non-profits, social service agencies, health providers, city and school leaders, and neighbors. The City of Promise has been chosen because of its efforts to create a continuum of solutions with the potential to significantly improve the educational and developmental outcomes of children and youth in one of Charlottesville’s most challenged neighborhoods
Each year, Peace and Dialogue Dinners brings people of diverse backgrounds together at one table to prove that this is a situation of great richness, with remarkable opportunities for mutual understanding and for creating a society rooted in common values.