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Day of Peace in Uruguay Observed with an Interreligious Summit

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Montevideo, Uruguay
- These first ten years of the third millennium, which we all wanted to be filled with peace, have been painfully marked by wars and violence that have had much to do with the religious factor. The United Nations designated September 21 of each year as the International Day of Peace and calls on people to observe it as a day of ceasefire and non-violence on a worldwide level.


In commemoration of this day, UPF-Uruguay organized an interreligious summit at the Hotel Radisson Montevideo Victoria Plaza on Oct. 5, 2010.

The Master of Ceremonies was Mr. Daniel Mesa Romero, a journalist and Ambassador for Peace from the city of Pando, Canelones. With great knowledge and skill, he moderator among all of the panelists.

To begin the encounter with an element of concord, the Family Federation Choir sang, creating a festive and joyful atmosphere.

The opening words were offered by Prof. Blanca Pol Tejero of the Universal Peace Federation, and talked about the federation's work in promoting dialogue and encounters among people of all social spheres for the sake of peace.

Next, were words of inspiration from the distinguished Ambassador for Peace Gaetano Brancati Luigi, representative of the Commercial Association of São Paulo. He has been the creator and principal promoter of the Peace Monuments that have been installed in Punta del Este, Uruguay, and other parts of the world. The goal of these monuments is to inspire people on five continent about the need to build peace in our generation and signify the promise of a better world to the new generations. He spoke about overcoming the religious, geopolitical, and philosophical barriers between people, recognizing that only the establishment of peace will guarantee the well-being and sustainable development of all the nations of the world. After giving an inspiring testimony about why he has dedicated his life to promoting and installing these Peace Monuments, he gave UPF a scale model of the Peace Monument and received in return a certificate recognizing his great work as a peacebuilder.

Speakers were representatives of different religious institutions who expounded on their vision of the central theme of the interreligious summit: “The Contributions of Religions to the Search for Peace.”

The first speaker was Rabbi Lic. Ariel Kleiner of the New Israelite Congregation of Uruguay. A distinguished academic and teacher, he emphasized the importance of reflecting on the words of Genesis: “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them" (Gen. 1:27). He explained that according to the written and oral Jewish teaching, all persons (gentiles and Jews, women and men, old and young, etc.) are brothers and sisters, deserving of love and respect. Respect for those who promote peace and build peace is the basis of an authentic humanism. This is how to prepare a serene future for the generations to come. Peace is a gift and a task for all.

Next spoke Mr. Tadashi Tanaka, representative of Soka Gakkai International of Uruguay. He asserted that Nichiren, a 13th-century Japanese Buddhist monk, urged people to live with the confidence that confronting the obstacles in one’s life of faith is equivalent to peace and tranquility. When we must confront difficulties, we should do so with joy, for it is the moment to demonstrate the power of faith. We must pass from a culture of violence to a culture of peace, transforming the human spirit. “If the heart changes, the action changes; if the action changes, the environment changes; if the environment changes, the personality changes; if the personality changes, the daily life changes." He quoted the teaching of Confucius: "If there is righteousness in the heart, there will be beauty in the character; if there is beauty in the character, there will be harmony in the home; if there is harmony in the home, there will be order in the nation, if there is order in the nation, there will be peace in the world. It depends upon us.”

Lic. Nicolás Iglesias Schneider, Continental Coordinator of Youth Pastors for the Latin American Council of Churches, discussed the need to plant a culture of peace and to ground youth in a culture of peace both in practice and theory. It is important to find points of accord between all of the religious visions, he said, starting from the initial teaching that we are all created in the image and likeness of the creator.

Jayadeva Goswami Das, representative of Vaishnava Hinduism, or Hare Krishnas, emphasized the importance of integrating God into our lives. He explained that God has been displaced even from science and scientific theories, provoking errors in our manner of thinking and in the results of applying this knowledge in the human reality. Psychology and mass communications leave out the religious sphere, leading to existential dissatisfaction.

The Rev. Kazuhiro George Tsusaka from the Family Federation for World Peace underscored the need to overcome personal barriers and seek harmony in our interpersonal relationships, beginning in our family. He gave examples from his own life and talked about overcoming trials as the way to attain higher levels of maturity. He ended his exposition with a reading from the autobiography of the Rev. Sun Myung Moon:

“It is easy to talk about peace. But to bring peace is not easy. This is because people push aside the most elemental truth needed to bring about a world of peace. They pretend not to know this truth is there. Before we talk about peace among individuals or among nations, we must talk about peace between ourselves and God. Each religion today thinks of itself as the highest, rejecting and looking down on other religions. It is not right to build fences against other religions and denominations. A religion is like a wide river flowing towards and ideal, peaceful world. The river flows for long distances before it comes to the wide expanse of peace. On its way, many streams flow into it. The streams cease to be streams from the point they meet the river. From that point, they too, become part of the river. In this way, they become one.” (As a Peace-Loving Global Citizen)

Translated by Ken Whitmore

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