UN International Day of Families 2012

Day of Families Observed in Dublin

Dublin, Ireland - The Irish branch of the Universal Peace Federation celebrated the UN International Day of Family on May 18. Representatives from the many religious groups that are using the Lantern Interfaith Centre were invited to give an insight in what their tradition thinks of and teaches about the importance of the family and also what challenges they are facing in trying to implement these ideals

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At 19:00 the doors were opened, and after a little wait for the latecomers to find their seats, the Secretary General for UPF-Ireland, Halvard Iversen, welcomed the guests and briefly introduced UPF. He also reminded the people present what history has shown follows when the family is not properly taken care of.

Before the speakers of the evening were given the podium, a representative from each faith was asked to come forward to be a part of the established tradition in these meetings, a Unification Ceremony. Each representative light a small candle from a big central candle, symbolizing that all are children of the same God and our lives have the same source.

Dr. Michael Murray, the head of the Lantern Interfaith Centre, was the chair of the meeting and enfolded the program with smiles and humorous comments. He introduced each of the speakers and made sure they had the opportunity to convey their message properly. The different speakers showed that they have similar hopes and face the same obstacles trying to prepare the younger generations for the secular society.

Halvard Iversen was the first speaker and explained why UPF has so much interest in the family. A successful family life is the needed foundation for a society that can substantiate people's hopes for a peaceful word family. He stressed that the family is the place to learn to love God and one's fellow man. He explained why marriage between a man and a woman is an institution that God created so He could see His own nature reflected and later expand that relationship into the school of love, the family. In the family the children should experience the love of God through their parents. He then touched on the education everyone can experience in the family and the types of relationships and investment of heart until parents master the unconditional love which is so essential for the children to receive. That love is also the love God has for His children and through it epople can experience a full relationship with the Creator and His heart.

Victor Cosingan from “Couples for Christ” talked about what they are striving for. Since this organization has a lot of Filipino members, they often feel the challenges of being separated from their home country and family. However, since they have the blessings of faith and a community, they try to face the situations with a smile, keep positive outlook, and a good testimony to their faith. He explained that “Couples for Christ” has related groups caring for all members of their community, such as “Youth for Christ” and “Singles for Christ.”

The editor of the paper The Irish Muslim, Abdul Haseed, described Islamic family ideals. Being married to an Irish woman, he also mentioned how cultural differences can create misunderstandings and disagreements, and he expressed appreciation for the opportunity to think over his own situation while listening to others. He mentioned that in the Islamic tradition, the families of both husband and wife would be involved in a dispute between spouses. Commenting on difficulties in the family, Mr. Haseed stressed that among many problems, divorce is looked upon as the least acceptable option and relatives normally would work to help the couple solve these kinds of problems.

The last speaker was Dr. Puri from the Sikh tradition. He explained how important the family is for developing the spirit of the young people. The parents should learn to love their children even when they did not behave properly. He stressed how empathy and forgiveness are essential in dealing with family situations, even when serious mistakes are committed by family members. Even unfaithfulness in the marriage should not automatically result in divorce, but a second chance should be given if possible.

Dr. Murray then asked everyone to join a group for further discussions of the things heard from the speakers and also mentioned that the topic for this year's celebration was about how to share the burden equally in the family. Eager discussions continued even after the final group reports and into the refreshments that everyone enjoyed afterwards.

To read more about UPF observances of the International Day of Families 2012, click here.

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