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February 22, 2013

Student panel examines peace among religions

Student panel examines peace among religions for series

PLATTSBURGH — Religion, one of the topics avoided in polite society, was first up in a new series entitled “The Dead Talks” at SUNY Plattsburgh.

The event was organized by Cerise Oberman, distinguished librarian at the college. Dr. Rebecca Kasper moderated three of her world-religions students — Alan Siergiej, Charles Lack and Juli Burnett — who weighed in on “Is Peace Dead Among Religions?” Tuesday evening in Feinberg Library’s third-floor reading room.  

PEACEFUL COOPERATION

After a brief introduction, Kasper launched right in with her first question: “Is there any hope for the world religions to engage in peaceful cooperation?”

“I have to say, absolutely,” said Siergiej, a sophomore biology major. “You have to always have some kind of hope for religious peace. 

”It’s not an easy thing to do. It’s obviously very difficult ... We mainly focus on all the negatives and how we all have differences with each other and among all the other religions, when we, in fact, really should be focusing on the similarities, which comes down to the core of every single religion of compassion and suffering. 

”We all want peace among each other, but we tend to focus more on the negatives and the differences between all of us,” Siergiej said.

“Based on the current state of affairs in our country in terms of Islamophobia and just that as a whole ... I can see from a rational standpoint you can’t label every person of the Islamic faith to be a terrorist or radical,” said Lack, a senior political science major. “But somehow or another, ... the media and just some politicians out there will paint the religion negatively. 

”I guess there’s still a lot of anger and resentment from 9/11, and people need to move on and realize that — not necessarily move on, but try to … — you can’t just pigeonhole one religion and say that this is the way they are, and they’re crazy. It’s just counterproductive.”

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