Chocolate and Coffee Breaks has evolved from the origins of Chocolate and Coffee Day for Religious Harmony. Seeing there is greater potential and need for more than just a once a year event, we are moving into creating a culture of extending the hand of friendship through Chocolate and Coffee Breaks .
About Chocolate and Coffee Day for Religious Harmony.
On the 15th December 2014, people were going about their normal day. Stopping by the Lindt Café on Martins Place, Sydney, was part of that. Here they enjoyed the coffee and the chocolate; some went on their way while others sat down and shared with a friend. The last thing they expected was a gunman to walk in and hold them captive. The gunman claimed he was doing it in the name of Allah. Sadly 2 innocent people lost their lives that day.
While we collectively held our breaths, I saw this little spark of beauty start to emerge. There was anticipation in the air. Muslims, especially in Sydney, were afraid of retaliation. They started to take off their religious garb and were uncertain if it was safe for them to go out. Then, slowly, quietly, a roar erupted. It started, with just one person who put the offer up on Twitter #Iwillridewithyou. Then again and again, people all over Sydney and Australia were reaching out and telling any Muslim that wasn’t feeling safe that they will ride the train, bus or ferry with them. They did not have to put aside who they are. We love and accept them as they are and this is not their fault.
I was so moved. This is the Australia I want to see and live in.
We will not bow down and respond in fear and hate. We will not go out and buy guns because our “freedom” is at risk. No, we choose to live in peace and love and enjoy the freedom that that brings us.
I was so touched by this I wanted to do something that would capture this moment
And so, Chocolate and Coffee Day for Religious Harmony was born.
Sitting down over a drink whether that be coffee, tea or any other beverage is something that transcends all cultures. In our Australian culture, we often say “let’s have a coffee,” it doesn’t necessarily mean we are going to drink coffee, but instead we are going to sit down together and share. Share in food, drink and conversation. It is a simple act that we all feel comfortable with. Somehow having that beverage in your hands, and sharing a table, gives us a sense of comfort and ease with meeting and talking with someone else. It takes the formality away and brings us into an equal footing. It says, “I am ready to listen and share with you.”
When we share with each other over these simple pleasures of life, something magical happens. We are able to break down barriers that divide us. Arthur Aron, Research Psychologist at the Stony Point University in New York, found that when we listen to someone for just one-hour, terrible differences melt away, not just to that person, but to the whole social group.
Sharing in Chocolate and Coffee breaks opens us up to creating communities where we all feel a sense of belonging, are accepted and provides us with an opportunity to contribute. These are essential parts of our being that we all long for.
While Chocolate and Coffee Day for Religious Harmony started with the pretext of the barriers of religion and culture, Chocolate and Coffee breaks moves into the greater arena of breaking down prejudices of all types, whether it be religion, race, culture or even disabilities. Where there are any feelings of nonacceptance and misunderstandings, it is time for a Chocolate and Coffee break.