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Balkans Peace Initiative

Conference at FON University Introduces UPF in Macedonia

Skopje, Macedonia - Taking advantage of the presence of UPF International President, Dr. Thomas Walsh, and UPF-Europe Secretary General, Mr. Mark Brann, for the Third International Conference: Dialogue among Religions and Civilizations (organized by the Ministry of Culture and UNESCO), UPF-Macedonia and FON University organized a conference on May 10, 2013 to introduce UPF to professors and students. The participation of students from the university was less than expected, because other scheduled activities; in addition to the students, there were several professors, the state secretary in the Ministry of Defense, and Ambassadors from Kosovo, Bulgaria, and Macedonia.

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The conference consisted of three sessions and was moderated by Ambassador for Peace Ms. Violeta Petrovska, President of the NGO Kumanovka. Mr. Sefer Canoski, General Manager of FON University, gave congratulatory remarks, expressing his interest in ongoing cooperation, as introduction to Dr. Walsh and Mr. Brann's presentations about UPF and the significance of Ambassadors for Peace.

For the next session, Dr. Shekerinka Ivanovska, Dean of the International Slavic University, introduced Dr. Walsh's presentation about UPF's programs and activities. Dr. Ivanovska said:

I would like to begin with a Aboriginal saying: "We are all visitors to this time, this place. We are just passing through. Our purpose here is to observe, to learn, to grow, to love... and then we return home."

On this jounrey, one of the most significant values is to achieve happiness. Even Rev. Sun Myung Moon starts the Introduction of his text, Exposition of Divine Principle, with: "Everyone is struggling to attain happiness and avoid misfortune. From the commonplace affairs of individuals to the great events that shape the course of history, each is at root an expression of the human aspiration for ever greater happiness." Happiness is connected with our desires, but we are witnesses that today, in contemporary circumstances of living, happiness is achievable for smaller numbers of people and most often it is followed by evil rather than by goodness. What is the nature of good and evil, and do why people turn towards evil, is a frequent question.

It is clear that the key to happiness is love and consciousness. Love is the supreme human feeling. In order to receive love, we should give it first. Love is for parents, for relatives, for friends, and always is followed by a smile. Today, however, we witness people becoming more distant from one other and smiling less. What is the reason for that, and why is it that in more developed and more sophisticated societies there are more unhappy people and more hatred, envy, intrigues, and wars?

Children smile 300 times a day, but adults smile only 15 times a day. Why do adults smile less? Maybe it is because adults forgot to give forgiveness. Accumulated disaffection breeds tensions and evil instead of goodness. One saying is that just as we clean our courtyard from unnecessary things and throw them away, so also we can clean our souls through forgiveness. Otherwise, negative pressures will grow, and instead of goodness, evil will prevail. That is why people have to learn to forgive.

UPF's goal is creating universal peace. It is an association of organizations which are dedicated to building a world of peace. Achieving peace requires principled human effort, because peace will not appear automatically. That is why every human being is responsible to act and take responsibility in order to achieve personal, moral, and spiritual transformation for the well-being of the world.

The essential values of UPF are: Vision of humanity as one global family under one God, living according universal principles. According all religions, our existence has a common origin, and all of us share a common goal and destiny. The foundation of peace is in the family, in building healthy persons with a healthy spirit, strong character, and high social culture.

I will finish with the following quote: "This morning the sun announced the new day, which was in the future, and yet it is past. Tomorrow is coming as a future, and the same will happen again. If you know what you are today, you will know what you can be tomorrow." It is up to us how we will spend our life, and will we experience beauty and happiness in life, filled with love, peace, and understanding, or we will allow evil to take over.

The last session started with Ms. Dance Golubovska, Inspector in the Cultural Heritage Protection Office of the Ministry of Culture, introducing Mr. Brann's presentation about the Activities and Vision of UPF-Europe. She said:

I will tell you how I found tranquility regarding one essential question. It is the question which undoubtedly every conscious individual asks himself or herself during their life. That is the question related with existence of different religions, their teachings, and finally, the dilemma of which one to follow.

For many long years, I was tirelessly looking for answers in many ways in different sources. I was searching everywhere – the Bible, the Talmud, Zen, Yoga, Kabbalah. Periodically, as could be expected, I was caught up enthusiastically in one of them, and as soon I thought that I found the true teaching, suddenly some new information would show up that took me to the other side of the planet, and I would start over with new curiosity and new fascination.

Finally, my mind become tired and understood that is unable to fathom that huge ocean, even though it planned to draw out the essence and apply it in life.

During my years of exploration, Rev. San Myung Moon had organized a scholarly research of group of about 40 experts and religious scholars who compared the holy scriptures of Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, and all other religions and beliefs. The conclusion of this research is that the essence of the religions is more than 70% the same, and the rest is about specific religious traditions and practices.

Believe it or not, this statistic made me peaceful. It confirmed the truth of revealed wisdom that every path is the right path – what is important is to walk it.

In his autobiography, Rev. Moon describes religion very lyrically in a way that touched me very deeply: "Religion is like a wide river flowing towards an ideal peaceful world. The river flows for long distances before it comes to the wide expanse of peace. On its way, many streams flow into it. The streams cease to be streams from the point they meet the river. From that point they, too, become part of the river. In this way, they become one."

At the end, Ms. Violeta Petrovska presented the conclusions of the conference: to establish a peace council in Macedonia which can network with other peace councils in the Balkan region and participate in and support peace initiatives. The role of the Peace Council will be to (1) develop interreligious cooperation, (2) involve NGOs in implementing model activities, and (3) educate state leaders and civil society leaders about successful models for peacebuilding.

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