On a recent Sunday afternoon, about 40 teen-agers -- equally divided among Christians, Muslims and Jews -- gathered at a Kansas City church to participate in a workshop called "Peace by Piece: Getting to Know the Other," led by performance artist and storyteller Noa Baum (pictured here).
I was there to start things off with a story and to encourage the young people to take seriously what they were about to do. In my experience, it's only when fear can be broken down by giving people a chance to look other people -- people of different backgrounds -- in the eye and speak with them that peace can break out and fear relieved.
So I was really grateful that Sheila Sonnenschein, a local Jewish activist, worked hard to organize this gathering with the help of the International Visitors Council of Greater Kansas City.
I wish there were a way to replicate this kind of experience for all young people. Without the opportunity to know and understand people different from ourselves, we can lock ourselves into a prison of fear and ignorance. And that's no place to live. It leads only to the kind of trouble we've seen engulf much of the world in the flames of religious violence.
So I encourage you to do what Sheila did -- look for ways to make this dialogue happen where you are.
See my About page to find out how to read online what I've written for The Kansas City Star.