Have you ever gone to the beach with a Muslim, a Jew and a Christian and looked out at the sea?
I went last summer with three close friends all of whom were from different faiths. We tried to challenge each other to see who could create the most ripples in the sea. Every time we threw the stones ourselves we would argue over who had the biggest ripple until we decided to throw them all in together. Unsurprisingly, when we worked together we had a much better result.
That is why a group of young leaders (ourselves included) decided earlier this year to bring people from different faiths together under one roof for the first Interfaith Summit ever to be held in London supported by the number one interfaith charity in the country, 3FF (the Three Faiths Forum).
We started planning this event long before the attacks in Paris, but we feel that the events of this weekend have given extra relevance and urgency to the summit. After the tragedies of the last few days in Paris, Beirut and other cities around the world, people of different beliefs need to stay united. We need to reject the 'us vs them' narratives that would see us divided along lines of faith, and instead work to build stronger bonds. We hope that, in some small way, the summit can contribute to this by creating a positive space where people can engage with each other.
With these pressures on our cohesion as a society, we need to redouble our efforts to create positive relations between our communities. The summit creates a space for people who may have never had the chance to engage with people from different faiths to just come and say hello, to learn, to explore and to understand each other.
A sense of community is incredibly important and in a city which is often divided on racial and religious lines it is essential that people have space to meet and discuss. In our opinion, face to face dialogue beats anything else because it helps break barriers and stereotypes between people.
The reality of people from different faiths being in your workplace, your local community and within your family is here to stay. Our cities and towns are becoming increasingly culturally diverse. At the same time, the new generation are marrying between faiths not just within. All of this means that we need to understand each other much better in order for society to flourish.
We didn't want the summit to be a conference where people are told what they should believe in or what they should be doing. Instead, we wanted the summit to be interactive and inclusive. That's why, alongside the great keynote speakers and panellists, we've invited groups such as MUJU, a Muslim-Jewish comedy/theatre collective, to run a session. There will also be five live music acts, giving the summit a festival atmosphere.
The leadership programme we're both alumni of, ParliaMentors, brings together young people from diverse backgrounds with different beliefs but a mutual desire to change society for the better. This inaugural interfaith summit represents exactly this. We hope people who come will have their preconceptions challenged, gain new insights and leave feeling inspired to create positive change.
For more information on the Interfaith Summit, visit www.parliamentors.org/summitSuggest a correction