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UPF Statement on the UN International Day of Peace 2013


The Universal Peace Federation enthusiastically affirms the United Nations International Day of Peace 2013 theme of "Education for Peace."

As stated in the Preamble to UNESCO's Constitution, "It is in the minds of men that the defenses of peace must be constructed." Through formal and informal processes of education, each of us is led, guided, and raised up, by parents, teachers, mentors, friends, and colleagues.

We know intuitively that human actions are linked to the world of the mind, the world of thoughts, ideas, information, values, emotions, and desires. Throughout history, systems and practices of education have been developed in order to cultivate the higher capacities of human beings. Through education we develop skills, knowledge, and, hopefully, insight and wisdom. If peace is to be achieved, surely it will emerge on the foundation of education that gives rise to an awareness of the benefits and values of peace, in comparison to the disadvantages of conflict and war.

As we honor the International Day of Peace 2013, the Universal Peace Federation offers the following recommendations in support of the theme "Education for Peace":

The Family: The family is the original primary school. It is in the family, in relation to our parents, grandparents, siblings, and extended familial network, that we learn language, cultural values, ethics, religion, essential information related to survival, and basic attitudes toward others, including those who exist outside "the tribe." If within the family, centered on the parents and grandparents, there is an affirmation of education and, more importantly, an emphasis on moral education or character education, then the family becomes a school of peace. It is very important that we come to understand, value, and support the family as the primary school of peace.

Character Education: While formal systems of education are naturally focused on development of professional capacities and skills that are necessary for employment and economic success, education must also give emphasis to moral education or character education. In this sense, education must consider the whole person. Traditionally, education comprises both the "arts" and the "sciences." The "arts" refer to the "liberal arts" or the "humanities" as a curriculum which introduces students to the great ideas of history and the moral and spiritual guidance that comes from classic literature, including sacred scriptures. Peace cannot be achieved by technology alone but requires ultimately a transformation of persons from selfishness, greed, and viciousness to benevolence, generosity, and self-discipline.

Interfaith Education: Interfaith dialogue, understanding, and cooperation are essential to peace. As long as beliefs within one religious tradition hold prejudicial attitudes toward people of other faiths, or even of people of divergent perspectives within one's own faith, peace cannot be achieved. Both the family system and the school system should cultivate interfaith awareness and mutual respect. Religious and interfaith illiteracy should not be tolerated, knowing that it contributes to bigotry, discrimination and, eventually, to violence. The curricula of the school system, from primary school to university, should include courses that respectfully and objectively teach about the great religious ideas and practitioners of history, just as we study the great art and literature of the major civilizations.

Peace and Security: Issues of peace and security are enormously complex. Simplistic and ill-informed perspectives should not be encouraged. Therefore, it is important that the public be informed, as much as possible, about the many relevant factors and issues that underlie many of the world's most serious areas of tension and conflict. Forums and symposia, along with publications that include various well-informed perspectives, contribute to the development of balanced and reasonable positions on the critical issues of our time.

As programs are organized around the world on this International Day of Peace, we hope these recommendations can be considered and encouraged. 

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