Steamboat Springs Rabbi Joseph Goldman of the Jewish Congregation of Steamboat was impressed with the responsiveness of the attendees of the third community meeting of "Exploring the Sacred" on Thursday night.
"Not many people left," he joked. "And I'm very impressed with the number of people standing around and talking to each other (afterward)."
Six religious leaders representing different faiths formed a panel to lead a discussion on "our world in conflict" and how we can respond to it.
"We have the tendency to feel kind of helpless," said Deacon John Franklin of Holy Name Catholic Church. "The world has been in conflict from the very beginning. Our job is to try and stem the flow."
Bishop Paul Stewart of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints said the solution begins with families and children.
"Children learn 80 percent of what they are going to learn in their lives by 5 years old," he said. "If we can't teach them of right and wrong before 5, it will be much too late."
Franklin said religion plays a major role. "Whatever the faith is, we need to do a better job of evangelizing and spreading that to others," he said. "Think what would happen if we had groups like this. Conflict would end."
Tim Olmstead of the Buddist Center of Steamboat disagreed, saying evangelization often leads to war.
"Everyone creating war is evangelizing in one way or another," he said. "Everybody makes choices, thinking it's going to make them happier, thinking they are the right choices. We're all screwing it up equally."
Kerry Hart of the Baha'i Faith said people can evoke change with their actions.
"Once we acknowledge our pattern of negative behavior, one has to make the choice or decision to correct that," he said. "The primary solution is the unity of mankind. We are all leaves of one tree and drops of one ocean."
Franklin said, "Education obviously is extremely important. History is very important, too - how we relate what happened in the past to what to do with the future."
Audience member Tom Leen said the solution has more to do with basic needs than idealism.
"Half of what gets into this discussion has nothing to do with religion and nothing to do with God," Leen said. "It's about jobs, economics, pride and freedom."
Organizers Marchele McEntee and Tim McCarthy said they wanted to use the forum to confront the way residents view the state of the world.
"We really want to challenge each of you to take something with you that you can practice in your own life," McEntee said. "That's your homework."
- To reach Allison Plean, call 871-4204 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org