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Peace Education

European Leaders Explore Hopes for Peace

Bergen aan Zee, Netherlands - On the weekend of September 18-20, UPF-Europe held a UPF European Leadership Conference on the theme of "Innovative Approaches to World Peace in the 21st Century" in the UPF Conference center, Huize Glory, in North Holland.

Lectures on the UPF view of peace were the main content of the conference, given by Timothy J. Miller, Vice President of UPF-Europe. He emphasized that the quest for peace needs to begin as indivduals and families, as well as being pursued by social and poltical means.

In addition, there was a special talk on Friday evening, a mini conference on Saturday afternoon, and a Cultural Evening afterwards. The weekend was coordinated by Wim Koetsier, Secretary General of UPF-Netherlands. About 40 people participated in all or some of the events.

On Friday, after a welcoming lunch and an introduction to the Universal Peace Federation, Tim Miller gave two lectures entitled "The Foundation for Lasting Peace and Happiness." After dinner, Mrs. Aukje Koster-Hiddema, teacher of the Dutch language and President of the Applied Scholastics Netherlands (a branch of the Association for Better Living and Education in the USA), talked on "Misunderstood Words: How they can wreck one’s life." Her concern is to help people of all ages study effectively. Afterwards, she was presented with an Ambassador for Peace certificate.

On Saturday, after optional Morning Meditation and Breakfast, Tim Miller spoke on "Understanding the Root Cause of Conflict" and "Restoring Peace and Happiness." Following lunch and a walk — for some — to the beach, an afternoon conference was dedicated to the UN International Day of Peace.

The program started with two short videos: "Heart of Peace" and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon's "WMD (We Must Disarm)" appeal. Wim Koetsier talked briefly about UPF's approach to bringing peace, explaining that while one might be able to do away with weapons it is important to change people's way of thinking. Speakers included Dr. Dick Leurdijk, Senior Research Fellow at the Netherlands Institute of International Relations, Clingendael, and Dr. Irma Loemban Tobing Klein, former ambassador of Surinam to the UN and co-founder and current Chair of MDG Global Watch.

Drs. Leurdijk addressed the topic “The UN International Day of Peace and the Situation in the Middle East,” looking at the situations in Lebanon and Israel / Palestine. He found it difficult to be optimistic about Lebanon and felt that another war between Israel and Hezbollah was inevitable. The UN seeks "greater progress" towards reconciliation, he said, but sadly there has not even been a start. Similarly, there has been no real common ground that would enable Israel and the Palestinian Hamas officials to resolve their disputes. He analyzed reports of the UN Secretary-General to the Security Council and Security Council resolutions, ending up with pessimistic conclusions. The specialist in political and military issues testified he had had a rich experience when visiting Israel and Palestine with UPF's Middle East Peace Initiative but had become increasingly sceptical in the face of political realities.

Leurdijk was accompanied by his wife, which seemed particularly appropriate since the weekend conference focused on the merits of marriage and the family and specifically the mid-October World Culture and Sports Festival in Korea, which will include a large ceremony of blessing in marriage.

Dr. Tobing Klein spoke on “The Millennium Development Goals, Dream or Reality?" She was convinced that the MDGs are achievable, although most of the richer countries need to do more and the developing nations also need to take more responsibility. It is encouraging that there have been improvements in combating AIDS, malaria and measles.

We have to "come together, to see how we can combine our strengths," she said, suggesting that UPF continue to raise awareness of the MDGs and seek to make them a platform for interfaith cooperation. She invited Ann Harris, a colleague at MDG Global Watch, to read a poem about ending poverty.

Wim Koetsier mentioned that soon it would be possible to read Rev. Moon's memoirs, which had become a best seller in Korea, and mentioned Rev. Moon remembering how he had encouraged and taught poor people in Paraguay to fish in the river. Only 100 years ago there had been extreme poverty in the Netherlands, and everyone knew about the potato famine in Ireland. "Let us look at our situation and see what we can do," he said. "Economic crises can also be opportunities for industry to develop." Henry Ford had developed a car for the common man, despite being told cars were only for the rich, when you helped the poor, you helped the development of the world.

Ambassador for Peace certificates were presented to three attendees:

  • Ms. Rose Keizer, who works with the Netherlands Institute of Ecology and lectures about the social behaviour of bees and swallows to encourage respect for nature and better understanding of human behavior
  • Mr. Jean Singgellos, Managing Director of Dancing City Entertainment, which aspires to bring culture, harmony, and understanding through music
  • Mrs. Fatma Aktas, Founder of the Avrasya Foundation and Selamnetwerk, which aspires to help ethnic Turkish and Muslim women develop a full personal and social life in the Netherlands

The conference was followed with dinner and a cultural evening, with contributions from staff and participants. Among the attendees were four musicians. They attracted the attention of the young staff members who left their cleaning up to enjoy the reggae songs — and then went happily back to their chores. A German guest in the hotel who was also attracted by the music sang the famous tragic song "Lorelei." The Dutch participants combined to sing the ever popular "Amsterdamse Grachten" (Amsterdam Canals). Huize Glory staff member Carlos Figueroa sang songs from Latin America, and diva Milly Scott made the room even brighter with her music. The evening concluded with a prayer for peace from Dr. Tobing Klein.

On Sunday morning, the Morning Meditation was enriched by two songs by Ann Harris. After breakfast, Tim Miller talked about "A Life for World Peace: The life and work of UPF Founder Rev. Dr. Sun Myung Moon." After concluding remarks and reflections, the weekend ended with lunch and optional sightseeing.

The next European Leadership will be in Hungary, from October 2 to 4.

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