Rev. Chung Hwan Kwak, Chairman UPF|
February 1, 2006
Your Excellencies. Spiritual and Government Leaders. Representatives of Civil Society, Educational Institutions and the Media. Ambassadors for Peace.
Rev. Chung Hwan Kwak, Chairman Universal Peace Federation
Welcome to the first World Assembly of the Universal Peace Federation.
When our Founder established the Interreligious and International Federation for World Peace in February of 1999, it was given a broad mission related to global governance, human development and peacebuilding. One central objective of the IIFWP was the call, by the Founder, to persuade the United Nations and its member states to appreciate the urgent need for the establishment of an Interreligious Council at the UN. Such a council was envisioned as a virtual ?upper house,? that would allow the voice of wisdom and principle, indeed the voice of God, expressed through the teachings of the world?s religions, to be heard, so that it might contribute to the effort to solve our world?s most critical problems.
As the IIFWP established chapters around the world, its mission expanded in significant ways as a variety of programs were developed in areas such as: character education, marriage and family, HIV/AIDS prevention, conflict resolution, interreligious dialogue, and leadership training.
In this way, the work of the IIFWP has grown from an initial focus on United Nations renewal, to a broader focus on applying its innovative, principled vision and methods to the search for solutions to our world?s problems. IIFWP is now widely recognized as an agent of broader social and national renewal and transformation.
One very important moment in the history of the IIFWP was the launch of the Ambassadors for Peace movement in 2001, attracting leaders from all professional fields?government, religion, academia, the media, civil society, and the private sector?committed to the core principles of the IIFWP and to the fulfillment of its mission.
Another watershed development of the IIFWP and the Ambassadors for Peace was the Middle East Peace Initiative that began in February 2003. On the foundation of the success of MEPI, led by Ambassadors for Peace, IIFWP gave birth to the Interreligious and International Peace Council in October 2003. The Founder referred to this as the start of an ?Abel UN.?
In fact, the Founder was calling not only for UN Renewal, but also for the development of a new model of global governance, centered not on the principle of national self-interest, but on the principle of living for the sake of others.
This presented an enormous challenge to the IIFWP. We were called to work to develop a global organization that was, on the one hand, very much like the United Nations in terms of the comprehensive scope of its mission, and yet very different in many other respects. The task was made even more challenging by its being undertaken by representatives of civil society rather than by governments.
Throughout 2004 and 2005, serious efforts were made to develop the Peace Council as a new organ of the IIFWP, a representative, deliberative body, something like a General Assembly, but hopefully less bureaucratic, more flexible, and grounded in a spirit of volunteerism and service.
International and regional preparatory committees were set up in 2005, and a charter for the Peace Council was drafted. During this process, however, questions arose about the broader institutional context or framework of the Peace Council. The Peace Council itself came to be understood not as an independent, new entity, but more like a new body or organ within the broader institutional framework of the IIFWP.
This realization led to the awareness that IIFWP had grown to become a system consisting of several organs, including what we have come to call the Presiding Council, the Secretariat, the Peace Council and the Standing Committees. With this realization, there has also been a general rethinking of the mission and role of the IIFWP?s Board of Directors, its Secretariat and Regional Offices.
This very serious discussion among the worldwide community of Ambassadors for Peace with the IIFWP leadership brought forth the concept of ?The Peace Federation? as the overarching framework in relation to which not only the Peace Councils, but also the Presiding Council, the Secretariat, and the Regional Offices, would function.
Meanwhile Father Moon, as he witnessed the worsening global situation and the growth of interreligious discord, global tension, conflict, terrorism, and poverty, was driven by an increased sense of urgency to hasten the establishment of what he has always thought of as the ?Abel UN.?
Members of the Global Peace Council
This is why the Founder launched the Universal Peace Federation on September 12, 2005, and proceeded to embark on a 120 nation speaking tour to spread the vision of the UPF. He took up the world tour at the risk of his very life, saying he could not sit back and watch as the windows of opportunity for peace were closing one after the other. ?Even if it costs me my life,? he said, ?I will not hold back.?
In the message he carried around the world, he defined the ?Abel UN? as ?a United Nations whose efforts for peace are offered to Heaven, investing itself ceaselessly in living for the sake of others.?
Living for the sake of others is the essential characteristic of true love. At the Inaugural Convocation, on September 12, he prepared a calligraphy with the following motto for the Universal Peace Federation, ?True Love Is the Original Ideal and Guiding Principle of the Universal Peace Federation.?
Thus, the root of UPF is true love. If UPF does not embody the spirit of true love it has very little value, and will not be the agent of peace we hope it to be. Let us always keep this in mind.
Where are we to get this substance, true love? It has to come from each of us, based on our relationship with God, the original owner and source of true love.
The Founder has described true love as ?the spirit of public service. It brings the peace that is at the root of happiness?.The essence of true love is to give, to live for the sake of others and for the sake of the whole. True love gives, forgets that it has given, and continues to give without ceasing?.God created the universe out of just such love.?
We may conceive of IIFWP, IIPC and UPF as stages in the development of a human family, for example, as parent, child and grandchild, each with different given names, but carrying the same family name: ?Peace,? and remaining part of the same lineage.
I cannot say enough about the experience of the world peace tour which Father Moon initiated. At 86, he is fully inspired, energized and on fire for peace, continually ready to lay down his life for this mission. In nation after nation, the outpouring of support was overwhelming. I can only say that, through the UPF, I believe we truly have an opportunity to bring about profound changes in our world, for the sake of lasting peace.
I am so grateful to our Ambassadors for Peace around the world, for their support, dedication and hard work in making the tour such a great success.
As much as I would like to look back and speak about the tour, I want instead to offer a vision for the future, the UPF Agenda 2006. In many respects, however, Agenda 2006 is contained in the message presented on the world tour, ?God?s Ideal Family: The Model for World Peace.?
Building an ?Abel UN?
The Universal Peace Federation is committed to renewal of the United Nations, including the work of establishing an interreligious council as an organ of the United Nations. At the same time, the UPF seeks to develop as an independent institution which functions in the world as an ?Abel UN.?
As we know, Cain and Abel are the sons of Adam and Eve, born after their parents had fallen away from God and were expelled from the Garden of Eden. The two sons both sought the favor of their parents and of heaven. Of the two, Abel?s heart toward heaven was more sincere, humble and sacrificial. Abel was a filial son who sought to serve the will of heaven. However, as the scriptures tell us, Cain, whose interests were more external, materialistic and self-centered, killed his brother, Abel.
Throughout human history Abel-like persons and institutions have been repeatedly dominated and oppressed by Cain-like persons and institutions. This pattern?Cain killing Abel?needs to come to an end at this time; not through violence or by force, but through the power of true love. Ultimately, Cain and Abel are to reconcile and unite as brothers and work together in accordance with the principle of living for the sake of others.
What will distinguish the UPF, as an ?Abel UN,? is not its focus on the critical issues facing our world, for it shares this focus with both the UN and other international organizations. What distinguishes the UPF is its internal principles, methodology and best practices, and the fact that these are embodied in our leaders, members and Ambassadors for Peace, who are truly living for the sake of others.
Addressing the Root Causes of Conflict and the Root Causes of Peace: Marriage, Family and the Blessing
In his world tour speech, Father Moon says, ?Only when we are linked to God?s lineage is it possible to establish world peace,? referring to the importance of establishing God-centered marriages and families. This is the purpose of the Blessing.
It is common today to speak about ?root causes? of humanity?s critical problems, such as poverty, disease, conflict, etc. Some associate ?root causes? with economic inequality, others with government corruption. Surely these are critical factors, and indeed they are part of the root system. However, if we are to look even more deeply, we find that the most fundamental aspects of all human beings are related to the roots of ?love, life and lineage,? all of which have their foundation in the family, our ancestral, genetic, and historical roots.
By building families that embody traditions of true love, we can establish a society, nation and world of true love and lasting peace.
A very important point of emphasis in the Blessing movement is to understand marriage as an instrument of peace. When a man or woman marries someone from a different?or even an ?enemy??religion, race, nationality or culture, they make a commitment to building a family of true love that goes beyond barriers.
Marriage and family are sacred within all religions. Governments and religions should form an alliance to uphold and protect the value of the two-parent, monogamous family of one man and one woman as the foundation of the good, stable, and prosperous society. The family is the foundation for moral and spiritual development, good citizenship, and economic productivity.
Peace through Interreligious and International Cooperation and Good Governance
Dr. Hamdi Murad, Board of Jordanian Interfaith Co-Existence Research Center, offers a prayer from the Qur'an at the Opening Plenary
Our world is in urgent and desperate need to restore and repair the damaged relationships that exist not only between the world?s great religious traditions, but also between spiritual values and principles, on the one hand, and the work of governments, on the other hand.
The broken relationships among religions need to be healed if we are to build a world of lasting peace. Also, the unhealthy relationship that exists in many nations between religion and government needs to be healed.
In reality, religion and government have complementary and overlapping concerns. Religion and government are alike in being expected to serve the well being of humanity and create the good society. At best, both are grounded in universal principles, and both require leaders who apply those principles and who embody virtues such as love, compassion, wisdom and courage.
Governments fail when their policies or the practices of their leaders or citizens are out of line with these principles. The same holds true for religions. When either governments or religions fail to practice good governance, humanity suffers, prosperity declines and hopes are unfulfilled.
International conflict occurs when one or more nations act in a self-centered and irresponsible way become an aggressor and violate the rights either of its own citizens or those of another nation.
Interreligious conflict occurs when leaders or followers of a given religious tradition act in a self-centered, irresponsible way, and fail to embody and apply core values and virtues of their tradition.
In order to create a new model of governance that welcomes spiritual values and spiritual wisdom, there needs to be a transformation on many levels. A new global awareness and openness must be cultivated within the religions themselves, among the leadership and the members. This is not a compromise that accepts relativism and rejects the absoluteness of truth, but an openness that underscores and expresses the absolute value of true love.
At this juncture in world history, we need to develop a global ethic, centering on core, universal values. One such value, which is at the heart of every religion and all the great philosophies, is the principle of unselfish love, living for the sake of others.
Interreligious dialogue and fostering good relations with people of all faiths should be among the central teachings and practices of all religions. In all the sacred scriptures we find statements in support of interreligious harmony, so let us build on that foundation.
Religious practices which continue to foster prejudice or bigotry will ultimately decline, as will nations that promote racism, ethnocentrism or selfish nationalism. Such behavior is in violation of universal law and our God-given conscience can recognize this point.
Religions should not isolate themselves, either from other religions or from the world at large. Religions should emphasize the value of service, and in relation to government and society, religious teachings and practices should show themselves to be fully consistent with and contributing to the establishment of a good, just and prosperous society.
Leaders and citizens of government should become more educated about religion and move away from an irrational fear of religion and spiritual values. Governments must end their prejudice against religion. There is nothing to fear, and much to be gained.
Good governance requires harmony between both the internal aspects of our lives, including both spiritual and moral values, and the external aspects, such as social, political and economic concerns. The spiritual and moral should never be divorced from the socio-economic dimensions of human life. The two should be harmonized.
Governments should also seek constructive partnership with faith-based NGOs, and faith-based organizations. In particular, the United Nations should waste no time in establishing an interreligious council on equal footing and in cooperative relationship with the Economic and Social Council, the recently established ?Peacebuilding Commission? and other UN Organs, Commissions and Entities.
Expanding the Foundation of Ambassadors for Peace and Peace Councils
During the world speaking tour, Father Moon offered guidance on the development and expansion of the Ambassadors for Peace movement. He advised that within each nation the number of committed Ambassadors for Peace be expanded, saying that the Ambassadors for Peace are to be ?Abel Parliamentarians,? persons who want to serve the nation according to the principle of living for the sake of others.
Peace Councils are to be like ?Abel Parliaments? which serve the nation for the sake of the well being of its people, as well as all the people of the world. They are to be parliaments of true love.
As you convene and work together during this Assembly and back in your nations, please keep in mind several key areas of concern:
- Please consider how your Peace Council can support the work of creating an International Peace Highway, and a Bering Strait Peace King Tunnel to bring together East and West, and to link the world together, beyond boundaries, for the sake of peace and prosperity.
- Offer your recommendations for developing what Father Moon calls the ?Peace Army? or ?Peace Police,? having in mind a mechanism both to prevent or bring an end to conflict, and to build stable societies and nations based on God-centered families. Neither calls for the use of military force, but rather mobile teams of activists and volunteers who form a kind of peace corps or peace force that can be assigned missions to serve in trouble-spots around the world. Already the UPF has developed several peace initiatives, in the Middle East, in Northeast Asia, and in South Asia. The problems of conflict, however, are not unique to those areas. As such, we will be expanding our peace initiatives in the coming year and beyond, and we welcome your recommendations and support.
- Please discuss and offer your recommendations for the establishment of a Universal Peace Academy. We want to develop a peace curriculum that embodies our unique vision, principles, and methodology, so that we can educate and train leaders around the world in the way of reconciliation, cooperation, true love and co-prosperity.
- In addition to these new programs, UPF will continue its active work in three core areas: Human Development, Good Governance and Peace Initiatives. Each of these areas are represented in the work of the Standing Committees that convene formally for the first time later this morning. Please get involved in one of the standing committees.
Finally, as we engage our work we must continually pause to reflect on the core values and guiding principles we have learned. Our work will be in vain if we simply carry on according to conventional patterns. Each one of us must be renewed and transformed, so that we might see even more clearly through the eyes of love, compassion, respect, and unselfishness.
I have covered a lot of ground in this presentation. Over the next few days, and surely throughout the coming year, we will see these ideas take shape and begin to bear fruit.
Thank you for your support for the work of the Universal Peace Federation. We have a great opportunity, and we have a great responsibility. Let us support one another, living for the sake of others, and providing vision and leadership for a world of lasting peace.
Never forget that there is a great providence that stands behind our work. We are not alone. Truly the living God is with us. Moreover, our ancestors, the saints and sages, spiritual leaders, righteous men and women stand with us and share our vision and our work. Let us be ever mindful of this as we move forward in the next few days.
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