Interfaith Peacebuilding


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Interfaith Programs

Interfaith Forum on Basic Values for a Peaceful Society

Nuremberg, Germany - A recent conference of the Universal Peace Federation on the topic ‘Basic Values for a Peaceful Society’ invited 38 participants from Germany’s Christian, Buddhist, Islamic, and Unificationist communities to reflect on the underlying principles of peace appropriate to a multicultural and democratic society such as Germany.



Opening the event, MC Enzo Campione explained that the focus of the debate would be the importance of inner values for peace. “Past movements such as the hippie movement or feminist movement were always against something,” he said, “but a more important condition for progress towards peace is dialogue, especially in order to break down the numerous prejudices that have accumulated between cultures.” The UPF, together with the Ambassadors for Peace, is creating a movement with a new consciousness and goal of “one world family under God,” he concluded.

After a musical interlude from the International Christian Fellowship choir, Christian Hausmann, chairman of the German Family Federation, spoke on the topic “What holds our society together?”

Christian Hausmann“We are living in the midst of a huge period of migration and globalization,” he said. “In Stuttgart alone, the proportion of the population with a migratory background has tripled in just one generation to 30 percent! However, in contrast to this rapid external development, our cultural and spiritual development is lagging behind.”

The decisive question for our time is: "Are there common values? Is there a glue, which can hold the loose grains of sand together?: Hausmann said. In this light, we can understand why UPF is proposing a set of values based on three simple core principles: interfaith cooperation, family strengthening, and service—living for the greater good.

Religious cooperation is vital, Hausmann said, because the modern state exists on assumptions that it itself cannot establish, such as tolerance, respect, sense of responsibility, love of the truth, and empathy. Religions do generate such values, and the statements of all the great religions are in 80% agreement. However, because of misunderstood claims to exclusivity, religion today is all too often a source of conflict.

Turning to the importance of the family, Hausmann cited some recent figures from the Stuttgart parliament pertaining to the situation of the family: currently there are 110,000 young people with behavior problems, and they come almost exclusively from unstable families. It already costs taxpayers 640 million euros to take care of them, pushing the financial resources of the community near to collapse. “Therefore, we cannot allow the family to fail,” Hausmann concluded. Perhaps it is time to introduce better training and even require a “parent driving license” in order to be able to provide all children with the family support they need.

Hausmann also touched briefly on the financial and economic crisis, which he saw as rooted in a misuse of freedom. In order to move from a performance elite to a responsibility elite, he recommended service projects abroad for young people, who could thus gain experience with other cultures.

Samuel HookwayIn response, Samuel Hookway, a young man currently preparing to study economics, spoke on the topic: Where does peace begin? “Young people think that government, the United Nations Security Council, or similar institutions guarantee freedom,” he said, “but we must realize that there will never be peace as long as there is war between people and conflict even inside the individual. Peace is too serious a matter to be left in the hands of politicians. It requires personal effort.”

Hence, there is a need for education for peace, Hookway continued. What form should it take? The present consumer society has difficulty with this. Teaching peace principles in schools has its limits, since students confront the old patterns of behavior outside of school. Peace education must begin in the family, since it is an essential building block of our society.

Robert Jandaka, from the Buddhist community of Erlangen, spoke on the topic of “No world peace without reconciliation between religions—a Buddhist approach.” He observed that big crises in the world are often accompanied by big changes.

Having been a Buddhist monk for 13 years, Robert shared insights into Buddhist thinking about happiness. “From the attitude ‘I want to be happy!’ comes greed that separates us from others,” he said. “Salvation comes from the enlightenment that my false longing is the cause of suffering.”

Robert JandakaIn addition, Mr. Jandaka explained the concept of ahimsa, or non-violence, that was the foundation for Mahatma Gandhi’s actions and the five silas, rules for cultivating a peaceful character.

The final speaker was Fritz Piepenburg, vice chairman of UPF-Germany, who gave a PowerPoint presentation entitled “UPF's vision for peace.” UPF is a global alliance of individuals and organizations committed to five basic principles of peace:

  1. We are a human family, created by God, the source of all existence.
  2. Man is fundamentally a spiritual and moral being.
  3. The family is the "school of love and peaceful relationships.”
  4. A life following the motto “living for the sake of others" can bring people together.
  5. World peace can only be achieved when ethnic, national, and religious barriers can be overcome.

The finale came in the form of an English song “Jerusalem,” by Daliah Lavi. The lyrics poignantly portray the desperate quest for peace in that cultural hot spot.

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