n January 2001, I unexpectedly received an invitation to participate in a Convocation of World Leaders that was to take place at the United Nations.
At that time, many of my collaborators thought that I should not participate in this gathering because it was an initiative of Dr. Sun Myung Moon, who was regarded then as a leader of a controversial religious sect known as the "Moonies." For a while, I thought I would refuse the invitation, but when I realized that such outstanding world personalities as Alexander Haig, former U.S. Secretary of State, and the Rt. Hon. Edward Heath, former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, were to attend, I made up my mind to accept it in order to see and hear things for myself.
Upon my arrival in New York City, I learned that Rev. Moon had launched the Interreligious and International Federation for World Peace (IIFWP), with the objective of getting all the religions of the world to put aside differences of dogma and theology in order to concentrate and collaborate, on the basis of their commonalities, in an urgent search for peace and a better world order.
I have never regretted my decision to go to New York and subsequently lend my unqualified support to Father Moon’s initiative. As a born and practicing Roman Catholic, there has never been any attempt to "convert me" towards another faith. On the contrary, through attending various conferences organized by the IIFWP over the years, I have come to know and to befriend imams, rabbis, archbishops and bishops of various Christian persuasions, Confucian and Buddhist leaders, Hindu swamis, and a whole range of other religious personalities of good will from every corner of the globe.
As far as the preaching and philosophy of Father Moon are concerned, I have been profoundly impressed and influenced by his steady concept of "living for the sake of others," his preaching of sharing and genuine caring, his argument that in every healthy body lives a healthy spirit, and his belief that we all belong to one and the same human family. Who indeed can question Father Moon’s ardent belief that our life needs a spiritual dimension and that God is the source of all spiritual power?
Father Moon has always spoken eloquently about this world of ours which, in his view, constitutes a laboratory of human experience upon which we should try to build the university of love, tolerance and integration. He has always preached that a country cannot be a piece of driftwood carried along by the wind and tide. Like a majestic tree, it needs to be firmly anchored by deep roots and nourished by a unique set of values that will help it to grow and thrive. For these reasons, he has always been a forceful proponent of family values and the need for character education.
Against the background of a sadly divided world, Father Moon assembled some 1,600 delegates representing more than 150 nations to launch the Universal Peace Federation (UPF) at the Lincoln Center in New York City on September 12, 2005. I consider myself to be lucky and privileged to have been part of that historic gathering.
"Humanity stands at a critical turning point. The decisions we make and the actions taken or avoided at this time will take us either further along a path to increased harmony, prosperity and peace, or along a track of crisis, of conflict and want," Father Moon told his international audience to loud and sincere applause.
Thus was created the Universal Peace Federation, guided by this man’s vision of humanity as one global family under God and called to live in accordance with core universal principles. Father Moon has created a global alliance of religious, academic, political, civic and business leaders to work together to promote global peace and create what he calls "a unified world in which people live together in harmony, cooperation and co-prosperity."
Father Moon could have isolated himself in retirement and avoided the ongoing turmoil before us, as so many others have done. Instead, at his advanced age, he is more dedicated than ever to charting for us a path that will remain a living memorial to his lifelong commitment to a safer and more loving world. For this reason, just after the founding of the UPF he embarked on a 120-nation speaking tour to spread his vision and message. He took up the 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."
Father Moon believes that we derive our existence from a common origin and that we share a common purpose and destiny and that this destiny is peace. He further believes that peace cannot be achieved by weapons alone—that peace cannot be legislated and therefore must come from within.
Over many years of adherence to the IIFWP and subsequently the UPF, there is nothing which has had a bigger impact on me than the love, support and loyalty which Father Moon enjoys from his wife, Mrs. Hak Ja Han Moon and their family and from those working closely with him. Today these outstanding men and women have been joined by Ambassadors for Peace working on global, regional, national and local levels to contribute to the fulfillment of the Founder’s mission.
Recognizing that peace begins from the individual level, Father Moon developed programs and support networks that expand upon the peace education which focuses on the individual so that peaceful practices can take root at all levels of human society.
The Ambassador for Peace initiative was inaugurated at the IIFWP Convocation on "Dialogue and Harmony among Civilization: The Family, Universal Values and World Peace," in New York City in January 2001. On this foundation, the Ambassador for Peace movement was launched and the first commissions were presented. To date, nearly 50,000 Ambassadors for Peace, all committed to living for the sake of others, have been appointed in over 185 nations around the world and are busy organizing, supporting and participating in service and relief projects such as building schools, digging wells, providing leadership in the area of interreligious dialogue, and fostering practices that help prevent conflict.
Father Moon’s efforts for peace began in war-torn Korea in the early 1950s and have continued unabated to this day. Without exception, individuals who change and uplift the world in enduring ways derive their deepest inspiration from the realm of an altruistic spirit—where true transformation begins. As a great thinker said, "Age is opportunity no less than youth, though in another dress and as the evening twilight fades away, the sky is filled with stars invisible by day."
Against the background of my personal involvement with the work of the IIFWP and the UPF, I can wholeheartedly proclaim that Father Sun Myung Moon is an exceptional man of superlative value. And if anyone wishes to question this assertion, then I would beg of him this simple question, "How many people with his charisma, generosity, commitments and sense of purpose and urgency do we find in the world today?"