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CALENDAR OF EVENTS

February 2018
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Speeches

The focus of the ongoing pilgrimages has been the coming together of the three Abrahamic faiths: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, as the basis for building peace. I reflected on what it took, or might take, for these three brothers of faith to unite.

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All religions teach peace, just as surely as all people desire peace. Yet people from time immemorial have legitimated war, oppression, and occupation with sacred scripture and with reference to religious obligation. Is there something in religion that is inherently antithetical to peace, or there is something in us that baffles our own efforts to bring about peace – even though it is patently in our own interest?

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For several weeks beginning in September, 2003, groups of South Korean tourists flew directly from South to North Korea for five-day visits. These were first South Koreans to visit Pyongyang purely for the purpose of tourism. For many — especially those whose homeland is the northern half of the peninsula — this was not an ordinary vacation.

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Reporting on the background and progress of the Philippine proposal to establish an interreligious council at the UN, including statements of support by Philippine President Arroyo, U.S. President George Bush, and others.

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Democracy has its place. Where is that place? That place essentially is national politics. National politics is for electorates and national governments. International politics is and should be, essentially an intergovernmental affair, wherein negotiations are the main method of decision making. NGOs should alleviate suffering from sicknesses, fill the mouth of famine, and leave politics to elected officials. Unelected officials need to know their place, which, in the words of Winston Churchill, is to be both civil and servants. And the job of the media is to report on all of these fallen creatures, without fear or favor. If these various cobblers all stick to their particular tasks, then the world will indeed be a better place.

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People taking on the responsibility of governance will experience the benefits of greater civic maturity individually and as members of society. In point of fact, the structure of representative government, giving power away on Election Day to a gaggle of politicians, denies the people the opportunity to mature by taking responsibility for their own actions. Representative government’s structure maintains the people in civic adolescence.

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HIV/AIDS is a problem that has existed for two decades in most of our communities. At this point, every country in the world has reported a case of HIV/AIDS. Never in history has there arisen such a widespread and fundamental threat to human development as HIV/AIDS.

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Human development is inherently linked to good governance. The pursuit of the objective of human development as a critical element in any national strategic development plan is recommended because of the overwhelmingly positive impact it would have on national development and on the lives of our people.

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While the old order conceived of peace through the strategies of internationalism, in today’s multi-civilizational dialogue we must think in terms of global solidarity.

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To appreciate how Islam approaches the question of peace, one has only to consider a few elementary facts about Islam. Peace and Islam are derived from the same root and may be considered synonymous. One of God’s names is Peace. The concluding words of the daily prayers of every Muslim are words of peace. The greeting of Muslims when they return to God is peace. The daily salutations among the Muslims are expressions of peace. The adjective “Muslim” means, in a sense, peaceful.

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We would do well to reflect on the question of whether the “clash of civilizations” that Harvard political scientist Samuel Huntington argued could be the fate of humanity in the twenty-first Christian century is already upon us. According to Professor Bassam Tibi, a devout Muslim and professor of international relations at the University of Göttingen, the “clash of civilizations” is both real and dangerous.

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Virtually every UN conference addresses contentious provisions regarding the role of the natural family, childhood autonomy, and children’s sexual rights. As these provisions are negotiated, the words that are used—the norms that are created—may become legally binding in the very near future. Each internationally negotiated document builds upon language used and objectives sought in preceding conferences and—as a result—forms an important link in a chain that inevitably encircles the international community.

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