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Peace Education

Meeting in The Hague to Support Peace Festival in London

The Hague, Netherlands - On November 22, a peace festival was held in London, with the support of all UPF European chapters. Simultaneous meetings were also organized throughout the continent, including at St. Agnes Church in The Hague.

UPF-Netherlands had supported the "Turkse Platform Den Haag" in their event on the UN Day of Peace, September 21. That meeting, bringing together Turkish and other people, had been chaired by Jhr. Jean-Marie Bosch van Drakestein, who is on the council of St. Agnes Church. It is a special church, being created from the merging of three Roman Catholic communities, with its logo including three half moons. The St. Agnes community is an advocate of interreligious cooperation. Muslims, for instance, are welcome to use meeting rooms in the church. In addition to its regular congregation, it hosts services and events for the local Latin American community. Mr. Bosch arranged for UPF to hold its festival there.

UPF-Netherlands Secretary General Wim Koetsier opened the festival by explaining that UPF seeks the creation of a world of love, which requires a clear sense of values. Everyone was aware that we were in a financial crisis and some understood that this was at least partly due to a lack of moral values. Many talked of Adam Smith as being the father of modern economics, but few knew that before he wrote his Wealth of Nations, he wrote The Theory of Moral Sentiments and is firstly talked of as a moral philosopher.

Mr. Koetsier suggested that whether the economic system was capitalist, socialist, or communist was not the most important factor: of more importance were the moral values of the people, in particular the leaders. We live in accordance with our understanding of physical laws, and we need to have the same respect for spiritual principles if we want to live in peace and flourish.
We live in accordance with our understanding of physical laws, and we need to have the same respect for spiritual principles if we want to live in peace and flourish.

If the Hutu and Tutsi regarded each other as cockroaches, he added, they could never live in peace: if we want "world peace," we need to bring people together. Now is the time for religious people to take the lead. It was not God's purpose that religions be in conflict but that they work together. We have different physical homes; therefore, we could surely respect people preferring different spiritual homes.

Mr. Koetsier went on to say that world peace begins with each of us individually, bringing unity between our mind and body. The mind tends to think of living for a higher purpose and needs to lead the body to live accordingly, overcoming egoistic and materialistic desires.

He described the family a micro community in which we should learn to live together in love, in all the different relationships. Character development is important as a foundation for marriage; otherwise the couple is certain to have conflicts. Scientific studies confirm that children suffer when parents divorce. We need genuine motivation and inspiration to guide our behavior, rather than regulations and fines. And first, we need structure, to know our place, and good role models. He told a story of a family that had a pig in their house that ate the scraps. Eventually, the father invited a super-nanny to bring order in the family. The pig was put outside since, through no fault of its own, it had become the standard. Finally, a positive and constructive atmosphere was created.

The answer to conflicts big and small is forgiveness and compassion. After World War II, the Allies learned the lessons from the Great War and previous wars, and forgave and helped Germany and Japan.

The answer to conflicts big and small is forgiveness and compassion. After World War II, the Allies learned the lessons from the Great War and previous wars, and forgave and helped Germany and Japan.In summary, UPF seeks to promote the appreciation and practice of universal values, the power of true love, and living for the well-being of others.

Eleanor Klerkx was called to sing some songs, accompanied by Christopher Davies. They started with the UPF anthem "Blessing of Glory" and continued with "This Is My Father's World" and "How Many Roads Must a Man Walk Down?"

Mr. Koetsier read passages from World Scripture about "Charity and Hospitality" as an example of the common values proclaimed by various religions. He further noted that the call was for all people to be charitable—not just rich people. People with nothing could still say "thank you" when they were being helped.

Christopher Davies sang two songs, "The Waves of Love" and "The Sparkle Song," and Ferry Wever, an Ambassador for Peace and founder of the UPF-NL Partner "Committee for Peace, Freedom and Democracy in Iran," spoke about the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, proclaimed nearly 60 years ago. He appealed to all Dutch people to do what they could to call for human rights in Iran: "We need to support the rights of women and others being oppressed in Iran, not just for their sake, but also for ourselves, and our children: Iran is not so far away. We need to defend human rights if we are to hope to create world peace." When someone commented that the President of Iran had spoken inspiring words at the UN, he said he was concerned not with nice words, but with the reality of daily life in Iran.

Jhr. Jean-Marie Bosch van Drakestein pointed to some pictures displayed in the room. They were embroideries based, he said, on glass windows designed by Marc Chagall. There were so many small pieces of colored glass in the original. Each piece was beautiful, but together they were even more beautiful. He agreed with Wim Koetsier that there were too many rules and regulations in today's society. We need more real respect and concern for others. We need to remember that each person is like one of those beautiful pieces of glass. All our small actions are very important and added to the larger process of life.

Mr. Bosch seemed quite taken aback, and very moved, when he was presented with an Ambassador for Peace certificate for his efforts towards interreligious cooperation. He said he saw it as a symbol of a connection that had been made. Wim Koetsier later mentioned that Mr. Bosch had told him that many of his student friends had amassed considerable fortunes in their chosen way of life, but he had preferred to focus more on his interreligious activities. Recently, some of them had agreed that he seemed richer than all of them. He had attended a conference earlier in the day and had been suffering some physical discomfort, which he only mentioned quickly and privately by way of explanation, but his commitment to support the UPF event led him to stay longer than he had intended.

All stood for a toast to world peace, and then enjoyed soup and bread rolls and fellowship. Gian Carlo Dragonetti completed the celebrations with songs from his native Naples—traditional romantic ballads and relatively modern "Mediterranean blues."

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