Eboo Patel 2010 Grawemeyer Award Winner in Religion
The big idea of the Interfaith Youth Core is simple. In a world of increasing interaction of people from different religious backgrounds, the big question is, is that interaction going to be conflict or cooperation. And there are a lot of people in the world right now who are invested in conflict. And those people are very good at recruiting and training young people to be the foot soldiers of that conflict. And what the Interfaith Youth Core seeks to be is a movement that recruits and trains and inspires and networks young people to be bridges of interfaith cooperation rather than the bombs of religious destruction.
My goal ultimately is to play a role at helping interfaith cooperation become a social norm. Over the past half century, environmentalism has become a social norm. Multi-culturalism has become a social norm. Volunteerism has become a social norm. What I mean by that is that you could walk out into the street tap someone on the shoulder and say, “environmentalist.” And they’d have an idea. And they would have a notion of how they could participate, whether it’s by recycling or driving a hybrid car. I would like interfaith cooperation be the same thing. That large part of the world that feels like they have a common vision that comes through people with different religions, building better relations with each other. They feel like they can participate in that. And I believe everybody can.
It’s a great honor to be with you at the University of Louisville. It’s been a life long dream to be associated with the Grawemeyer Awards and to have been awarded the religion prize feels like not only a great honor but a great responsibility, which I hope to spend the next half century of my life trying to even half earn. So, thank you for the privilege and the honor and the new found responsibility.