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Peace Education

International Peace Walkers Converge at Festival in Frankfurt

A peace festival was held in Offenbach City Hall, near Frankfurt, Germany, on September 7, 2007. Participants included some 1,000 activists from the Netherlands, Austria, the Czech Republic, and Norway as well as the host nation.

The German festival was preceded by an eight-day peace walk made by two groups, one from the north, Herdorf, the other from the south, near Heidelberg, ending in Bad Camberg, where UPF-Germany has a center. They slept mainly in youth hostels, covering about 20 km a day, meeting mayors and the media, and visiting the religious centers of a number of faiths. There were 80 participants, representing the eight Millennium Development Goals. The Cologne Buddhism Centre was centrally involved. Ashin Sopaka, a monk from Burma and experienced peace marcher, said he particularly appreciated the chance to meet and talk with fellow walkers on the way. The two groups covered 330 km between them, on the E1, a European walking trail that goes from Galway, Ireland, to Genoa, Italy.

The festival was billed as "clean," with no alcohol, no smoking and no drugs. It was designed to appeal to young adults, and musicians in the eight bands were in their teens and early twenties.

Two young emcees, Stefan Ikehata and Thea Künzig, introduced the first band, Shinrok, originally assembled by the keyboard-playing mother of one of the seven performers. They played original music on themes of aspiring to higher values and overcoming teenage angst. One person commented that their lyrics were like the aspiration of a chrysalis to become a butterfly.

A PowerPoint presentation about the background of each of the MDGs was given by UPF lecturer, Rainer Fuchs. The second band, Jamacadoo, consisted of a didgeridoo and washboard percussion duo; their rhythms enhanced the global atmosphere of the festival.

The stage design also reflected the MDGs theme, with the black and dark blue backdrop reminiscent of a black African night and a foreground of yellow-green grasses heralding new life and a new day. The third band was Strokes Percussion, an extraordinary five-man percussion group from Hungary. Their instruments were made from garbage and recycled material: tins, buckets and even a rubbish trolley that one member later said had been removed by a stage hand who didn't realize it was an instrument. Rhythmically brilliant, the band featured dramatic interplay among the performers and much humor. Only one player was a professional musician.

A backstage scheduling problem enabled the emcees to depart from the script and include a superlative xylophone performance by Jamacadoo percussionist Thomas Nemeth.

Dieter Schmidt, secretary general of UPF-Germany, took over as emcee, introducing a PowerPoint presentation about UPF's Principles of Peace. Rainer Fuchs elaborated on the presentation, showing how the activities of UPF and associated organizations help advance specific goals. The music group Wild Kimchi, young Koreans living in Germany, prefaced a trio of speakers.

Dr. Amir Mohammed Herzog, a prominent native German Muslim living in Berlin, apologized for some of the activities of those claiming to be Muslims, asserting that they were not representative of his religion. Then Dr. Edda Hanisch, a former East German dissident and board member of the Jacob Kaiser Foundation, spoke, followed by UPF Secretary General, Dr. Thomas G. Walsh.

The audience was electrified by Dr. Hyun Jin Moon, co-chairman of the Universal Peace Federation. He insisted that a better world would never be created just by money but by people who are conscious that we are all members of one human family. In contrast, progress towards the MDGs is often described in terms of how much money the governments of "developed" countries contribute.

He challenged the audience to cleanse their hearts, live for the sake of others, and dream the audacious dream of building "one family under God." As he passionately appealed to everyone to commit themselves to this vision, Dr. Moon came down into the audience to encourage individuals and couples to join him in proclaiming "One Family under God!"

So energized was he that he sang an Elvis Presley gospel song unaccompanied. Then, having invited senior UPF officers and Ambassadors for Peace on stage as back-up singers, he burst into a rousing rendition of "Johnny Be Good," accompanied by instrumentalists, including keyboardist Hans Campman and guitarist Carlos Figueroa from the Netherlands.

After calm had been restored, Christian Hausmann reported on the Peace Walk. Medals and certificates were presented to representatives of the walkers, and UPF Ambassador for Peace certificates were given to each member of the bands.

The rest of the program consisted of music, with some of the previous bands performing again. Additional performers included Talking Horns, a trio of brass players from the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra who had traveled from Austria to Frankfurt to show that classical musicians can also swing. The bands Exit, Timeless, and Red Cabbage performed a mix of rock, grunge, and metal genres.

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