In the society in which we live, Christmas is traditionally a time for peace and reconciliation, and every year we bemoan the fact that the atmosphere of warmth and friendship that is built up over a precious few days in December, is so quickly forgotten. My children, learning about past wars, were completely confused by the fact that at one point soldiers on a front line put down their weapons and played football against their enemies. What the children really couldn’t understand was why afterwards they went back to killing each other. This month the city of Melbourne hosts the Parliament of the World’s Religions, an event that is held every five years in a major international city. The event brings together leaders and followers of the world’s religions and spiritual communities. It seeks to engage worldwide environmental, business and educational leaders also. They meet to discuss peace, diversity, sustainability and more importantly, how the world’s disparate religious groups can work together to combat major issues such as climate change, international conflict and poverty. At the last event in Barcelona in 2004, Thai Buddhist activist, Sulak Sivaraksa, stated that the traditional religious effort of his own religion, to ‘transform greed into generosity, hatred into compassion and ignorance into wisdom’ is today a near impossible task. He said that society is now so much more complex. He cited urbanisation, globalisation, structural violence and what he called the ‘demonic’ religion of ‘consumerism’, saying that we need to challenge our lifestyle and challenge our way of thinking if we are to survive as a race. It may be that the Parliament of the World’s Religions will come up with some useful theories, perhaps they might even warrant a little bit of media attention, but I doubt they’ll be able to explain to my children why we would go back to killing the opposing team after a friendly game of football.