The Sydney Statement - A Lotus Flower

The Sydney Statement – A Lotus Flower. Photo: Unsplash/fallsonata

Photo: Unsplash/fallsonata

It was just over a year ago when I read The Sydney Statement for the first time. I thought about the lotus flower – a significant symbol in Buddhism – where beyond all the dark, heavy mud, there is always opportunity for insight and purity. As extensions of the world around us, together we have the powerful capacity to transform it for the better. The Sydney Statement is there to help us navigate the muddy waters of division, distrust and misinformation in the collective search for mutual respect, understanding and cooperation, such that each and every one of us can rise to the surface as bloomed flowers.

Joining Youth PoWR as a committee member provided an opportunity for continued consideration of The Sydney Statement. The diversity of the committee ignited a lot of excitement in me, but it also reminded me that there is so much more for me to learn. I grew up in the Vietnamese-Buddhist community and have volunteered and worked in that community for the last decade. While it taught me to be compassionate towards all those around me and to contribute to society in a meaningful way, my sheltered experiences within my own community meant that I was not as aware of the diverse lived experiences of others as much as I could be. I was so focused on the flowering buds within my own pond that I did not see those growing in other ponds.

There has been this enquiry within me – a sense of curiosity and desire to engage – to advocate for a harmonious world that is multicultural and multi-religious. The Sydney Statement is cultivating that enquiry with a reminder that I don’t have to go on this journey through life alone, and that the very hope for a unified and vibrant future for everyone is better sought after together. I realised that empowerment stems from diversity whilst being rooted in our commonality.

Not only did each of the types of dialogue in the charter speak to my core beliefs and values, they reinforced that beyond the individual experience, there is the greater, shared human experience. All of us can exercise kindness and compassion. All of us can see the strength in collaborative action. All of us know that shared knowledge and experiences make us wiser. In practising these dialogues, we can transcend disparities and divisiveness, and work towards solidarity.

The Sydney Statement invites us to ‘build bridges between believers from different religions’, an invitation that I have accepted in the hopes of seeing many lotus flowers, floating above the surface of the muddy waters together. 

Will you help us wade through the mud in our world too?

Sophie Vo, Committee Member, Youth PoWR

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