World faith leaders delivered a rare joint statement. Here's what they had to say.

The pope, the Dalai Lama, and Ayatollah Sayyid Fadhel Al-Milani have an important message for you: Make friends.

Created by the Elijah Interfaith Institute, an interfaith organization fostering unity and diversity, the unique video project features 22 holy leaders coming together to urge people to seek out others who may practice religion and faith differently than they do and unite in friendship.

All GIFs via Make Friends/YouTube.


The leaders call on people to make a sincere effort to forge personal connections...

...by listening and conversing — but mostly listening.

When we get to know people who exist outside our individual silos created by geography, class, race, or religion, we can learn a lot about ourselves and others who share our communities.

It's no secret that disagreements over religion can lead to negativity, distrust, discrimination and violence, but the stewards of faith believe the antidote to these social ills is understanding, friendship, and building community.

Whether or not you subscribe to religious teachings or beliefs, making friends with people who are different than you is sound advice.

Plus, there's a psychological basis to back it up. Research conducted by eminent psychologist professor Robert Zajonc demonstrated that coming across something (or, in this case, someone) creates familiarity, and that familiarity makes you like the person, idea, or thing more than you did before you were first introduced. It's called the mere-exposure effect.

In the case of making new friends, if you live in New York City and you get to know someone from Savannah, Georgia, your opinion about people from the South may be higher than it was before you met your new friend, and vice versa.

Imam Mohamed Magid holds hands with a Jewish faith leader during a press conference with an interfaith coalition after the U.S. presidential election and rising hate crimes outside the Masjid Muhammad, the Nation's Mosque, in Washington, D.C. Photo by Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images.

Something as easy as introducing ourselves may be the first step to ending hurtful rhetoric and improving relationships across demographic barriers.

If nothing else, we can make new friends along the way. It certainly doesn't hurt to try.

Interfaith religious leaders show support for the Muslim community outside the Mosque Foundation in Bridgeview, Illinois. Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images.

If you've never seen a Maori haka performed, you're missing out.

The Maori are the indigenous peoples of New Zealand, and their language and customs are an integral part of the island nation. One of the most recognizable Maori traditions outside of New Zealand is the haka, a ceremonial dance or challenge usually performed in a group. The haka represents the pride, strength, and unity of a tribe and is characterized by foot-stamping, body slapping, tongue protrusions, and rhythmic chanting.

Haka is performed at weddings as a sign of reverence and respect for the bride and groom and are also frequently seen before sports competitions, such as rugby matches.

Here's an example of a rugby haka:

Keep Reading Show less
True

If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.

Keep Reading Show less
via WFTV

Server Flavaine Carvalho was waiting on her last table of the night at Mrs. Potatohead's, a family restaurant in Orlando, Florida when she noticed something peculiar.

The parents of an 11-year-old boy were ordering food but told her that the child would be having his dinner later that night at home. She glanced at the boy who was wearing a hoodie, glasses, and a face mask and noticed a scratch between his eyes.

A closer look revealed a bruise on his temple.

So Carvalho walked away from the table and wrote a note that said, "Do you need help?" and showed it to the boy from an angle where his parents couldn't see.

Keep Reading Show less
via Good Morning America

Anyone who's an educator knows that teaching is about a lot more than a paycheck. "Teaching is not a job, but a way of life, a lens by which I see the world, and I can't imagine a life that did not include the ups and downs of changing and being changed by other people," Amber Chandler writes in Education Week.

So it's no surprise that Kelly Klein, 54, who's taught at Falcon Heights Elementary in Falcon Heights, Minnesota, for the past 32 years still teaches her kindergarten class even as she is being treated for stage-3 ovarian cancer.

Her class is learning remotely due to the COIVD-19 pandemic, so she is able to continue doing what she loves from her computer at M Health Fairview Lakes Medical Center in Wyoming, Minnesota, even while undergoing chemotherapy.

Keep Reading Show less