North American Leadership Conferences Held in 5 Cities
Written by Mrs. Tomiko Duggan, Acting Secretary General, UPF-North America
Saturday, December 14, 2013
Washington, DC, USA - In 2013, UPF-North America organized leadership conferences on the theme of “Building a Nation and a World of Peace” in five cities to build national networks of Ambassadors for Peace. The international events attracted participants from 16 Caribbean nations, Canada and Mexico:
- Washington, DC – September 26 & 27
- Ottawa, Canada - October 3 & 4
- Miami, Florida – November 1 & 2
- Los Angeles, California – November 15 & 16
- Chicago, Illinois – December 13 & 14
Dr. Ki Hoon Kim, chairman of UPF-North America, and Dr. Thomas Walsh, president of UPF International, were executive organizers; Mrs. Tomiko Duggan as acting secretary general of UPF-North America reached out to include a broad range of interfaith, academic, political and civil society leaders.
Dr. Kim expressed delight that the Caribbean nations were well represented in Miami and that people from Mexico attended the program in Los Angeles. He shared with participants his passion for peace and UPF’s vision of bringing people of different religions, cultures and nationalities together in order to create lasting peace.
Dr. Walsh spoke about the need for both internal and external components to world peace. Noting that mainly national interests are served at the UN, he referred to UPF Founder Rev. Sun Myung Moon’s vision of an interreligious council connected to the UN, an idea that is being discussed in many circles. Dialogue and cross-cultural understanding are essential, he said, adding that “UPF is becoming a respected partner by not only religious leaders but also political leaders and social scientists.”
The following people were instrumental in the success of the conferences: Dr. Michael Balcomb, President of the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification-US, who gave presentations on marriage and family; Mrs. Susan Fefferman, Washington DC staff; Rev. Tom Cutts, Executive Director, American Clergy Leadership Conference; Mr. Ricardo de Sena, Director for Latin American and Caribbean Affairs at UPF’s UN office in New York; Mr. Gary Chidester, Director of UPF-Miami; Mr. Nasser Zomorod and Rev. Mark Tengan, UPF-Los Angeles; Mr. Bruce Sutchar and Rev. Kazuo Takami, UPF-Mid West; and Mr. Franco Famularo, UPF-Canada.
Each conference covered various topics relevant to lasting world peace. The following is a sampling of comments by speakers on key themes:
Building a nation and a world of peace
“God is the creator and parent of humanity, and we, as brothers and sisters of that family should live in accordance with the universal God-given principle of ‘living for the sake of others.’ If we are one family under God, we can go beyond race, religion, nationality and creed, to realize true brotherhood and sisterhood. Manifestation of this ideal is the spirit of public service. It brings the peace that is at the root of happiness. This is the cornerstone of a peaceful world, and the foundation to experience true joy and happiness. This is our turning point - we can choose to dedicate ourselves to this lofty ideal, share it with others and be a catalyst for the betterment of all human beings.”
“A Cherokee grandfather was teaching his grandson about life through a Native American story. There are two wolves fighting: one is anger, resentment and ego, and the other is joy, peace, hope, serenity, kindness, generosity and faith. That fight is going on inside of each of us. The grandson asked his grandfather, ‘Which one will win?’ He replied, ‘The one you feed.’”
“Our expectations must be realistic, first heal the families, eliminate poverty, and empower communities. We are a nation in turmoil and we must work together to solve our problems and bring peace.”
“There are 19, 223 suicides and 50,000 gun deaths each year. It is time to stand up and show leadership that is loyal to the teachings of our faith.”
“The giant sequoias are over 300 feet tall, but the roots are shallow. The roots reach out and entangle with other trees. They can stand tall only in relationship with others. Caring for each other is the noblest expression of our humanity.”
Interfaith dialogue, mutual respect and cooperation
“Politicians come and go, but religious leaders stay with their people the longest so their influence is the strongest.”
“At the dinner table, educate your children to be good citizens and respectful of all others. Our youth will lead when we pass on. The family that prays together stays together.”
“Many of the differences between the three Abrahamic faiths are ethnic or cultural. We should always look for the common points that can bring us together. The Jews have many names for God, Islam has 99. Christianity has only one: ‘God is love.’ God sees the heart in each of us. Through dialogue we can understand each another better. When we start to argue, perhaps we should stop, play some music and begin to dance.”
“Our neighborhood in Chicago was called the ‘murder capital of the US.’ I decided to listen to the teachings of Rev. and Mrs. Moon because we needed new ideas, and by listening to them, a whole new world opened up for me. I am a better alderman and woman because I was exposed to the ideas and beliefs of others.”
The significance of marriage and family for a stable and prosperous society
“The Islamic perspective is that we each need a companion in our lives. Marriage is the solution to the problem of being alone. Marriage for material possessions or position is false, and we should only marry for the pleasure of God.”
“A study by Joseph Unwin of 80 primitive societies showed that those with monogamous marriages survived but those without perished.”
“Being a parent is the most difficult job in the world. When there is strong family support, the children do better and try harder. Parents are the first teachers. Parents need to monitor and supplement their children’s education to fill in the lack.”
"Social science research indicates that children who feel parental love feel less hostility or aggression, have a healthy independence, positive self-esteem and positive self-adequacy.”
“The family is important because it continues after you are gone.”
“Would parents want to go to heaven if their children are not there? Rev. Moon’s insight is that God cannot dwell in heaven if His children aren’t there. The problems of the first human family still impact lives today, and the Blessing of Marriage ministry seeks to heal that problem, bringing together people transcending nationality and religion through the vision of one family under God.”
A vision for youth
The Collegiate Association for Religious Principles (CARP) was introduced by US President Naokimi Ushiroda. It promotes a principled perspective on campuses and helps students develop internal and external leadership skills. It also encourages dialogue that draws on religious perspectives to promote harmonious and peaceful living.
UPF’s Religious Youth Service program was presented by Mrs. Tomiko Duggan, who reported about youth coming together to learn and serve others, develop insights, cultivate good character and learn leadership from mentors in many fields.
Ambassadors for Peace
Programs featured a presentation introducing UPF’s five principles of peace; afterwards new appointments were made, adding new members to the network that serves as “the conscience of the nation.” Ambassadors for Peace work together transcending barriers, honoring each other’s faith, exemplifying God-centered principles, and nurturing families in which each child can grow up healthy, happy and living for the sake of others.
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