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April 2019
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Peace Education

UPF France Working Group: Africa and Universal Values

Français, Español

World politics at present leans toward globalization through regional unions. The American dream, for instance, is no longer the North American dream, but the Pan-American dream, because God wants to bless all Americans.

In 2005, American scholar Jeremy Rifkin published a book entitled European Dream praising Europeans for the recent miracles of abolishing borders, using a common currency, and creating lasting peace among former enemies. At the core of the European dream, Rifkin stresses that some universal values make Europe attractive to all mankind. In a similar fashion, former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Japan Taro Aso upholds the Asian dream. Rather than a dream of economic success, it is about Asian people becoming role models. The Asian man and Asian woman are becoming attractive in popular culture, ethically and esthetically, Aso believes.

Such American, European, and Asian dreams may help define the African dream. A crucial step is to promote African unity. In the wake of independence, Pan-Africanism was strong but ambiguous. Its worldview naively embraced materialistic and humanistic views borrowed from Western thought, assuming that socialism or rationalism would solve the challenges Africa constantly faces.

Other thinkers tried to promote negritude, or African pride, in reaction to a condescending attitude toward Africa and the black people. More recently, Pan-Africanism refers to a worldview and movement that seeks to unify both native Africans and those of the African diaspora as part of a “global African community.”

In our view, universal values offer a basis for drawing people together beyond boundaries of race and culture. UPF, through its educational activities and publications such as World Scripture, is working hard to communicate unifying, universal values We have clear views about love and beauty. The view of African beauty can easily be one-sided: African men (some women too) try to become attractive stars in sports while African women aspire to
become top models.

A more comprehensive view of beauty and love should combine spiritual and physical components of beauty. People who focus not just on promoting their own individual image but on contributing to the well-being of others radiate a deeper beauty. When someone transcends racial divides and finds ways to resolve issues that affect people globally, people feel that he or she is like friend to the whole human family. For this reason, Nelson Mandela is considered one of the most attractive persons in the world today. He exemplifies the African dream and Pan-Africanism.

Life goals as a framework for the African dream

UPF-France set up a working group on the theme of the African Dream that meets once a month to discuss a specific issue. So far, we have addressed tourism, languages and communication in Africa, development, and family structures. Our blog (http://lrafricain.blog4ever.com, in French) contains hopeful stories. The stories that have attracted the greatest interest are about Mr. Abou Woro Traore, a successful businessman from Sikasso, Mali, who established local factories and an import business, and Mrs. Marie Tamoifo Nkom, a leading figure in the African youth movement and the executive secretary of the environmental group Association Jeunesse Verte du Cameroun.

Ultimately, we plan to release a textbook on the African dream. It will follow the framework of the
three life goals that form the core of UPF’s character education initiative. The dreams of African people are the same as every person’s dream:

  • To achieve maturity of character, to become a person of heart who cultivates the harmony of
    mind and body and lives for the sake of others.
  • To create an ideal family where the four types of love (parents’ love, conjugal love, siblings’ love,
    and children’s love) are realized. Furthermore, to establish one’s family as a school of love and
    peace, and expand that to one’s community, nation, and continent.
  • To achieve creative mastery over nature and the kind of development that can bring lasting prosperity
    while preserving the environment.

UPF-France’s Working Groups

Other working groups include the dignity of women, the family as the school of love, spirituality,
and human development. These various working groups serve several purposes:

  • As an “Abel United Nations,” UPF should analyze and address pressing issues with more transcendent ideas than typical of humanistic views. All those issues should be approached with true love and be grounded in our five principles of peace. Our working groups are think tanks and will communicate their research and proposals through lectures, publications, and blogs.
  • Working groups help mobilize Ambassadors for Peace and attract more people to become Ambassadors for Peace. Through strengthening and extending our network, our national peace council will gain credibility and the potential to have a broader impact.
  • The working groups help prepare for our Global Peace Festival and make alliances with other groups working on similar issues.

 

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