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 Home -> Programs -> Peace Building Committee -> Beyond Co-existence Toward a New Culture of Peace


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Chairman's Address
Rev. Dr. Chung Hwan Kwak
Washington, D.C, United States
February 27, 2003

Your Excellencies. Respected Leaders.

Welcome to this Special Consultation, which launches the Middle East Peace Initiative of the Interreligious and International Federation for World Peace.

We are all aware of the critical moment at which we stand in world history. Tensions are high in many places around the world. Not since the heyday of the Cold War has there been such an environment. From the Korean peninsula in East Asia to the Middle East, the threat of war is on high alert.

Since we live in the age of the globalization of economies, information, transportation, communications, and media, the flashpoints are not isolated problems. What affects some, affects us all. There is no place on earth where we can avoid the consequences of conflict.

This evening I want to speak very directly to our topic, and I hope you will give serious consideration to what I am about to say. I know the topic we are taking up is, for so many, a very personal and painful situation. I know from my own experience the devastation that comes with war. At the time of the Korean War, I, along with my parents, brothers and sisters, were forced to leave our home and live as refugees. Even to this day, Korea remains a divided country. Due to this conflict, Korean people have shed many tears.



The problems in the Middle East are also very painful to many of you in this room. For that reason, our topic is not one that is being considered only from an intellectual or objectively analytical point of view, but also from a very personal and emotional point of view.

Some have advised IIFWP not to convene this consultation at this time with such a diverse audience. We were told that the tensions, emotions, and the divergence of strong opinions are too strong, and that we are perhaps too naive. There may be some truth to this well-intentioned advice. At the same time, the situation is too serious for us to avoid. If we are to demonstrate the kind of leadership that is needed in our world today, then we must seek a way, through, respectful, constructive dialogue and interaction, to contribute to peace.

The IIFWP approach to peace has its foundation in the vision and practice of its founder, Rev. Dr. Sun Myung Moon. Like all Koreans of his generation, from the decades of Japanese domination through the Korean War, he knows first hand the brutality and horror of human evil and war. His hometown is what is now North Korea and his parents and siblings were all separated due to the war. In the wake of the war, he began his movement for peace while living as a refugee in Pusan, building a small hut from leftover ration boxes.

He was a victim of the ferocious and fanatic fervor of the communists in North Korea, supported by both the Stalinists in Russia and the Maoists in China. For three years he was imprisoned in a forced labor camp, where for the communists, death of the prisoners was both expected and desired. Korea itself at that time was a vale of tears, unspeakable pain, and victimization. This history is deeply embedded in the minds and hearts of the Korean people.

But while deeply aware of the human potential for violence, tyranny, and evil, Rev. Moon's vision is fundamentally hopeful, because of his deep and living relationship with God. In his vision, all human beings, regardless of race, religion or nationality are members of one human family under God, who loves and cares for all people just as parents in a family love all their children.

God's original ideal for humanity was to establish a worldwide, universal family of true love, harmony and cooperation. Of course, the human Fall resulted in separation from God, and this in turn led to divisions within the human family. But it has been precisely through religion that God has sought to restore the Fall, and particularly through the line that leads from Adam, to Noah, to Abraham and which has three primary religious expressions, in Judaism, Christianity and Islam. These three religious traditions have their roots in Abraham, and are sometimes knows as the "Abrahamic faiths." These three are brothers.

Religions, both through their leaders and followers, are to set their sights on God's original ideal. And surely God's ideal is peace and the practice of true love, not conflict. This is also true of the founding prophets and leading figures of these traditions. They always taught love, not conflict.

For this reason, leaders and followers of each of these three traditions must reflect on their roots and their origin. That means to return to the founding ideals expressed in the core teachings and practices of our founders and prophets, including Moses, Jesus, and the Prophet Mohammed.

In addition, leaders and followers of these traditions should make strong effort to connect to the will and heart of God, who always seeks reconciliation.



Moreover, leaders and followers should reflect on the reality of the spirit world. Both our physical and spiritual ancestors dwell in the spiritual world. They reside in a realm that is different from the physical world, but they are very much alive. More importantly, in the spiritual world, Abraham, Jesus, Mohammed, the prophets, live in harmony and oneness, respectful and appreciative of one another. Many persons with the ability to experience the spirit world have reported on this reality. But even without the benefit of reports from the spiritual world, we can infer, based on the teachings and practices of the leading founders of these traditions, that they live among one another in peace, harmony, and respect. They commune together in the spirit world.

The believers and leaders of these three traditions should and must do likewise. If we are faithful to the heart and will of those we most revere and honor, we cannot hate one another; we cannot fight one another.

Increasingly people are sensitive to the reality of the spiritual world. More and more people are having experiences of the spiritual world. At times persons in the spiritual world testify to people living in the physical world. Some believers who have passed to the spiritual world report their regret and shame for being narrow-minded, argumentative and prone to fighting during their time on earth. They advise harmony, oneness and love among all people.

We should recognize that the living God who calls us to peace is working for human salvation and ultimate fulfillment through these great religious traditions. By fighting we only frustrate and stand as obstacles to the divine will.

Rev. Moon has invested in the effort to bring peace to the Middle East for many decades. Why would he want to do this? Korea has little relationship to the Middle East. Korean history and culture is so different from the traditions that have their roots in the Middle East. Why should he convene this kind of conference? There is one reason. He is sensitive to and fully aware of God's pain and agony at seeing the suffering of his children, and especially at seeing the widespread hatred and violence among his people.

There is nothing in the entire universe which lives in isolation. Everything that exists is part of a cosmic order, and participates in the natural order of things. Western individualists fail to fully appreciate this point. We exist in a cosmos in which all things are interrelated and interdependent. We exist in a network of horizontal and vertical relationships. Furthermore, all relationships exist according to the principle of give and take action.

The principle of give and take action serves as the basis for existence and harmony and mutual benefit. But there is one very important point. That is, between any related things, such as an electron and a nucleus, a planet in relation to the sun, a son and his mother, a leader and a follower, give and take action has its foundation in the principle of serving and giving to the other for the sake of the higher good. This is a cosmic law, and when violated no good can come. In other words, all give and take action leading to goodness is rooted in the principle of "living for the sake of others."

The natural order functions according to this principle, including the animal kingdom. In the human world, however, this principle does not apply automatically. Human beings must apply it according to their own responsibility.

Rev. Moon always teaches the way of true love, is to live for the sake of others. By loving each other, we restore the failures and suffering of the past. There is no other way. The way to restore relationships requires that we go the way of loving our enemy. If we are to solve the problems we are facing around the world, we must practice this fundamental principle of loving our enemy. To do this we must face the challenge of overcoming our own difficult and painful feelings toward those we feel have behaved unjustly or wrongly.

This radical act of loving the enemy is the opposite of evil. Satanic power hates to see people loving their enemy. For when we love our enemy we create true brotherhood. Eventually we should create in-law relationships between former enemies.

As you may know, the relationship between Korea and Japan is very painful. For 40 years, Japan colonized and oppressed the people of Korea, doing terrible crimes and violating fundamental rights. Rev. Moon, however, has taught us to forgive and in fact has encouraged intermarriage between the people of Korea and Japan, as a means to resolve the painful history, and establish true love and a new history.

Please consider this point. There have been such intense feelings between Korean and Japanese people due to the painful history of injustice and suffering. Therefore, the majority of people in both Korea and Japan were opposed to Rev. Moon's initiative of intermarriage. He received great persecution from many people in both countries. What he did was revolutionary, and radical. However, he has always believed that we need a true love revolution in this world. It is the only way to fully restore the painful history of the past. And now, in fact, many of those who objected strongly to his initiative, have changed their minds and are appreciative and respectful of his vision and courage.



This coming May, we will host another International and Interreligious World Peace Blessing, as part of the World Culture and Sports Festival 2003. For this Blessing, representatives of religions around the world will gather along with many youth who are dedicated to the principle of establishing a true love marriage between people of different religious and national backgrounds. I hope that you will support this interreligious Blessing for peace, urging your sons and daughters and young followers to join this World Peace Blessing movement. However difficult and controversial this may be, it is nonetheless essential to a lasting peace. It is radical acts for true love such as this that will usher in an era of peace. We need a new kind of leadership and we need to take action now.

These three Abrahamic religions must unite. This is a central prerequisite for peace. The enmity and disunity among Judaism, Christianity and Islam is a great scandal and brings sadness to heaven. Moreover, it prevents peace from being achieved. It continues to contribute to suffering and unnecessary bloodshed.

If unity can be achieved it will have a dramatic effect on world events. If people from these three traditions unite, peace can be achieved, not only in the Middle East, but also around the world. On this foundation the United Nations could be renewed and revitalized as an instrument of peace.

But, if these three traditions, through their leaders and adherents, refuse to go beyond their current attitudes and practices, it will not be possible to achieve peace. I am sorry to speak so directly and so bluntly this evening.

Please consider what you expect to achieve from this conference. If we are focused only on our own benefit or the benefit that may come to our own religion or culture, we do not provide world-level leadership, but something more narrow, that neither pleases God nor moves us toward finding solutions to critical problems. Surely a central aspect of our work here is for each of us to make a commitment to expanding the limits of our thinking and especially the limits of our hearts. If we are to live as Ambassadors for Peace, with a desperate heart to end the tragic experience of millions and to chart a way forward for all people to a dignified and hopeful future, then we will take our work here in the coming days very seriously, and we will leave here transformed. This attitude and determination is consistent with God's own heart and will.

When God created the world, he only intended peace among his children. His anticipation was that all people as we are born and come into this world, enter a place of love and joy and peace. In the beginning, God never expected to see so many divisions among people, so many religions like Judaism, Christianity and Islam. This is not God's concept. These are human concepts.

God's heart and True Parents' heart is for the three major religious traditions, these three brothers, that originated in the Middle East, live together in peace and help uplift our world. Like parents view their children, God is viewing these three religions and their cultures. He cannot will the fulfillment and happiness of only one among them, or only two among them. He wills the fulfillment and full embrace of each.

I hope you can understand my heart and my love for all of you. I sincerely believe that if we unite together, those of us who are here for this meeting, we can start a new movement that can bring peace to the Middle East. I believe our time together is serious. This is not just some conference or another group of assembled experts gathered to talk yet again about the Middle East. I believe that in the course of our deliberations and through our time together we have the opportunity to mark a turning point in history, one which can lead to the resolution of our world's current crisis.

Let us be the leaders the world needs at this time.

Thank you and God bless you.

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