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V. Somchai: Address to the International Leadership Conference

Address to the UPF International Leadership Conference
Seoul, Korea, February 6-10, 2011

When we look at the world as it is, not as we might wish to be, we can see rising trends of turmoil such as political and social upheavals, natural disasters, terrorist attacks, labor unrest, and even some limited wars within or between countries.

In order to understand what is happening to the world, it is necessary to take a look at what has been happening to humankind. Particularly during the past century, the entire world has gone through tremendous upheavals in the realms of religion and values. How do people respond to this? While the first type are busy living a worldly, preoccupied with their possessions, enjoyments, and the increase of their material advantages, the second type live in a sort of half-way house between total loss of religious values and adherence to them, with various excuses and apologies for their lack of commitment. The third type stand firm on the religious principles and true values, serving as a counterbalancing force against the random progress and indiscriminate adoption of values and behaviors that are not appropriate for humankind and can do great harm to their societies.

In spite of all these difficult circumstances, interfaith cooperation is needed in order to send a wave of religious consciousness throughout the world. For many years people have been manipulate by materialism. The economic theory based on harmful behavior of human being, which is “greed,” transformed into unlimited wants versus limited resources. People, therefore, try to take advantage of each other. Likewise, the government of each country follows the same path. Yet, some people, having taken a good look at this circumstance, have become aware of its pitfalls and have grasped the fact that material progress and prosperity neither constitute the total fulfillment of human nature nor provide people with the paradise on earth which they seem to promise.

After one attains all that, they ask, then what? Prosperity can leave an individual as inwardly empty as poverty. Such people have come to the realization that human beings must, by the necessity of their human nature, concern themselves with something much more significant than merely the material sphere — with meaning and not simply with matter.

We note that communism, capitalism, and all other ideologies which deny or give insignificant value to our spiritual nature or concentrate on one aspect of his nature at the expense of the others must ultimately be viewed as futile attempts to resolve our human dilemmas.

By means of his very limited human perspective, to understand himself and find the right direction. Since early in our human career on this planet, various religions, philosophies, and systems of life and thought, including those which are dominant today, have tried to converse the causes back to the religious principles. However, a look at current trends in the world makes it clear that a small results has succeeded in resolving the essential conflicts and dilemmas within the human personality, for most of them have, in one form or another, either ignored vital aspects of our relationships with reality or given prominence to one aspect of life or human nature at the expense of others, creating frightening disonance and imbalance within both individuals and societies. They have, in the present era, come close to destroying humanity altogether.

In the midst of all this, interfaith cooperation for peace could be one of our last efforts to remedy the erosion of religious principles as means to curb greed, selfishness, envy, desire for power, and a trace of hypocrisy. Sincerity in interfaith relations is a key for success as we join hands all together to bring the world back to the right path, which is a peaceful and harmonious life on earth.