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‘Pursuing Interdependence’ Is Focus of Academicians at ILC

Africa/Europe/Middle East—A webinar of the International Association of Academicians for Peace (IAAP), a UPF project, comprised the eighth session of ILC 2020 organized by UPF of Africa and UPF of Europe and the Middle East.

“IAAP: Perspectives from Academicians,” held on September 12, 2020, was titled “Breaking Down the Walls: Pursuing Interdependence in the Community for Peace.”

The moderator, Rev. Moruti Ledwaba from South Africa, the coordinator of IAAP for Africa, introduced the session’s seven speakers:

Dr. Sung-bae Jin from South Korea, the chairman of the HJ Academy of Arts and Sciences

Professor Oumar Coumba Ndongo from Senegal, a professor of American literature and culture at Cheikh Anta Diop University

Dr. Olga Safonicheva from Russia, a doctor of medical sciences and a professor at the Institute of Clinical Medicine, I.M. Sechenov First Moscow State Medical University

Dr. Simon Bedelo from the Democratic Republic of Congo, a lecturer at Keio University, Japan

Professor Dr. Carlos Poiares from Portugal, the vice rector of Lusophone University of Humanities and Technologies

Yoshihiro Yamazaki from Japan, the liaison for Europe and the Middle East at the Institute for Peace Policies and the coordinator of IAAP for Europe and the Middle East

Dr. Thomas Selover from the United States, the president of SunHak Universal Peace Graduate University in South Korea, and the international co-coordinator of IAAP

Dr. Sung-bae Jin, the chairman of the HJ Academy of Arts and Sciences, gave the welcoming remarks. He focused on interdependence, especially as exemplified in the family.

“The family is the beginning point and source for practicing love and for creating all kinds of culture,” he said. “Therefore, an attempt to create a new culture without reconstructing a loving family would surely end in failure. Indeed, the family is where we learn how to live together and interact selflessly. In fact, the family is where we learn about the important principles of joint ownership and interdependence. …

“The COVID-19 pandemic has allowed us to consider the concept of interdependence, and how we can solve elements of selfishness and greed in our larger society, based on the family. In our confinement at home, we are beginning to think about the seeds that we are sowing within our family. Please consider your family’s conscience, and how it can become a seed for creating a new culture based on interdependence.”

Professor Oumar Coumba Ndongo of Senegal spoke on “Opportunity and Hope at a Time of Global Crisis.”

Professor Ndongo said that “due to demographic (a young population) and other environmental factors, the health impact of COVID-19 appears much less severe in Africa than in the USA, China, or in European countries.” He cited a recent article in the USA Today newspaper (September 6, 2020) that ranked Senegal second among 36 nations for successfully handling the pandemic.

The pandemic, he said, has “brought to light names of local medical doctors who became famous because of their dedication and talents in the fight against the virus. In Senegal, our heroes were neither European nor American in their well-equipped labs but Senegalese doctors and anthropologists from local, seemingly poorly equipped universities.”

Professor Ndongo said: “The fight against COVID-19 is also a period of great spirituality. Only the Heavenly Parent can save humanity from this calamity caused by a virus so minute but so ferocious to kill people in large numbers.” He referred to the message of UPF co-founder Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon who said in a recent address, “We wish for a community of all people, one family of humankind centering on the Heavenly Parent, united under the values of interdependence, mutual prosperity, and universal values.”

Dr. Olga Safonicheva of the First Moscow State Medical University, Russia, spoke on “Education in the Post-COVID-19 Period: Challenges and New Solutions.”

Dr. Safonicheva’s presentation described the Sechenov University of Life Sciences, where she works, as “the largest research medical school in Russia.”

During the past five months, she said, the university “has been at the forefront of the fight against the pandemic. All four university clinical hospitals have been redesigned into COVID-19 clinics.

“Students, residents, graduate students fought for the life and health of patients, together with the doctors of the clinical centers and scientists.”

She said: “Students were transferred to distance learning from March 16, 2020. The university organizes the work of students and teaching staff through an electronic information and educational environment.”

Dr. Simon Bedelo, a lecturer at Keio University in Japan, spoke on “Impacts, Both Positive and Negative, of Digital and Online Methods on the Youth and Their Culture of Learning, Lifestyle and Values.”

He noted the positive impact of online tools on the lives of Africa’s young people: “In the area of learning and promotion of culture, Africa’s youths are relying on the Internet in lieu of a ‘physical library’ to conduct research. They are also using it to promote their culture. There are plenty of YouTube channels in which the people of Africa showcase and market their music and fashion to the world.”

However, he said, “The new frontiers are not without challenges. … In Africa, the Internet is making it easier for people to promote immorality and plot scamming schemes. There are also issues of cyber bullying and violence against girls and women. …

“Online tools have the potential to break down walls and speed up mutual prosperity, as they allow information to be shared instantly, effortlessly and even cheaply. However, given the reality of how easily these tools can ruin people’s lives, it is crucial that a sustainable standard be set to safeguard the well-being of all users.”

Young Africans, Dr. Bedelo said, “should consider utilizing current challenges from COVID-19 to reboot both the usage and the goal of their online communication tools.”

Professor Dr. Carlos Alberto Poiares, the vice rector of Lusophone University in Lisbon, Portugal, spoke on “Peace, a Social and Human Construction in the Chess of Solidarity.”

Professor Poiares said: “Peace requires the promotion of inclusion in an egalitarian register, finding its primordial atoms in human relationships and interactions, in the citizen-state and citizen-community relational composition. Therefore, an education policy for citizenship and fundamental rights is essential. …

“Education must privilege, in its genesis, equality right from the start, from basic education to the highest levels of schooling, as our constitutional framework requires. Of course, in terms of gender parity. An education that promotes social integration and qualification … that allows social elevation and personal satisfaction.

“The education of this millennium must prioritize the intention of not only training and informing but also equipping it professionally, while educating for development, for citizenship and for each person to be an agent of change, a non-conformist actor in the fight for fundamental rights, not resigned to poverty as if it were an immutable destiny. …

“With education, great avenues will open where free people will pass, to build a better society—that peace, that dream so often postponed, will be the natural and serene consequence.”

Yoshihiro Yamazaki, the coordinator of IAAP for Europe and the Middle East, said that the UPF founders have had great respect for academicians as “the backbone of creating the ideal world.”

Mr. Yamazaki said: “The conscience shared in a family, society, nation and the world is critical in developing …  stability, peace and cooperation among their members. And it is partly the role of educators, academicians and scientists to formulate such shared conscience by exploring and disseminating knowledge.”

He recalled that the UPF founders sponsored the International Conference on the Unity of Sciences for 20 years, starting in the 1970s. Then, in 2020, Mother Moon set up a new project, the International Association of Academicians for Peace.

Two important declarations were made at ICUS conferences, Mr. Yamazaki said: in 1981, the announcement of the International Highway Project; and in 1985, the startling declaration of the “End of Communism.”

Mr. Yamazaki called interdependence “a testimony of human maturity and worth in society” and said it is “relevant to the highest value and norm of altruism or ‘true love.’ It may belong to a realm of heavenly wisdom.”

He said that “the mission of academicians and scientists [is] to support the global drive toward the interdependent global community.”

He concluded by saying: “I do hope our IAAP in the nearest future will confidently issue a ‘Declaration of Interdependence’ in one of our forums. Let us work together!”

The final speaker was Dr. Thomas Selover, the international co-coordinator of IAAP, who thanked UPF co-founder Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon for the “motherly push that has brought us together.”

Dr. Selover said: “In whatever academic field we are working, we must strive to be peacebuilders who contribute to the recognition of interdependence, mutual prosperity and universal values.”

He referred to the Canadian philosopher Marshall McLuhan’s famous statement that “the medium is the message,” saying: “Here we are, concerned scholars from many countries and many fields who are interacting together, mutually striving toward world peace, using the medium of Internet webinar technology. This is what we have done together today, and this medium is also a key part of our message—that this is indeed what we OUGHT to be doing under the present circumstances of our world.

“At the heart of the core concepts of ‘interdependence, mutual prosperity and universal values’ is ‘mutuality’ itself, which we are manifesting today. ‘Mutuality’ is that bond of togetherness which links us not only to one another but also to the world of all beings and to the great Being, our Heavenly Parent.”

To go back to the executive summary for the Africa-EUME ILC, click here.

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